Alexander Berkman (1870-1936)
The youngest of four children, Berkman was born in Vilna, Russia, to a prosperous family. Attracted to radical ideas as a youth in St. Petersburg, he was expelled from school after submitting an atheistic essay to his instructors. Berkman came to the United States in 1887 and settled in New York City. He was a well-known anarchist leader in the United States and life-long friend of Emma Goldman. His dramatic attempt on the life of Henry Clay Frick is considered the event that broke the back of resistance to the striking workers' demands, although it led to his imprisonment, a penalty he served for over twenty years. Among his numerous agitational writings the best-known of his books are Prison Memoirs, and The Bolshevik Myth. He died as the result of a suicide attempt induced by illness and poverty.
(Irving Horowitz, The Anarchists, 1964, Dell Pub.)
The Only Hope of Ireland
[Originally published in The Blast! vol.1, no.13, page 2; May 15, 1916]
Most Irishmen, in and out of Ireland, seem unanimous in condemning the brutality of the British government toward the leaders of the unsuccessful revolt.
There is no need to recite here the atrocious measures of repression practiced by England toward her subject races. The arrogant and irresponsible tyranny of the British government in this relation is a matter of history. The point of interest just now is, what did the Irish people, or at least the Sinn Feiners, expect England to do in the given circumstances?
I am not interested in the weak-kneed editors of Irish-American papers who bemoan, with all due decorum, Great Britain's "lack of generosity" in dealing with the captured Sinn Feiners, or who hide their cowardice by arguments about the "mistake" the British government has committed by its harsh methods.
It is disgusting to hear such rot. As a matter of fact, it is entirely in keeping with the character and traditions of the British government to show no quarter to rebels. Those familiar with the colonial history of Great Britain know that the English government and its representatives have systematically practised the most heinous brutality and repression to stifle the least sign of discontent, in Ireland, in India, Egypt, South Africa—wherever British rapacity found a source of aggrandizement. Burning villages, destroying whole districts, shooting rebels by the wholesale, aye, even resorting to the most inhuman torture of suspects, as in the Southwestern Punjab and other parts of India--these have always been the methods of the British government.
"The measures taken by us," said Sir Michael O'Dwyer, Governor of the province of Punjab, in his Budget speech in the Punjab Legislative Council, April 22, 1915, "have proven that the arm of the Sirkar (British government) is long enough to reach and strong enough to strike those who defy the law." The nature of this "long and strong arm" is clearly characterized by Lord James Bryce: "The English govern India on absolute principles. There is in British India no room for popular initiative or popular interference with the acts of the rulers, from the Viceroy down to the district official. Society in India is not an ordinary civil society. It is a military society, military first and foremost. The traveler feels himself, except perhaps in Bombay, surrounded by an atmosphere of gunpowder all the time he stays in India."
The Irish rebels and their sympathizers know all this. But what they don't know, or refuse to admit, is that these methods of suppressing discontent are not merely colonial policy. They have also been practiced by the English government at home, against its native sons, the English workers. Just now the iron hand of conscription is driving thousands of Great Britain's toilers into involuntary military servitude. Long terms of imprisonment are meted out to everyone having conscientious scruples against murder, to every anti-militarist protestant, and many have been driven to suicide rather than turn murderers of their fellowmen. The Irish people, like everyone else, ought to know that the claim of the English government of "protecting weaker nations and fighting for democracy" is the most disgusting hypocrisy ever dished up to a muttonhead public. Nor is the British government in this respect any better or worse than the governments of Kaiser, Czar or President. Government is but the shadow the ruling class of a country casts upon the political life of a given nation. And the priests of Mammon are always the ruling class, whatever the temporary label of the exploiters of the people.
We don't fool anyone by paroting that it was "a mistake" on the part of the British government to use the sternest methods against the Sinn Fein leaders. It was *not* a mistake. To the English government, to *any* government, the only safe rebel is a dead rebel. The ruthless shooting down of the insurrection leaders, the barbourous execution of James Connolly, who was severely wounded in the Dublin fighting and had to be propped with pillows that the soldiers could take good aim at him -- all this may serve to embitter the Irish people. But unless that bitterness express itself in action, in reprisals -- individual or collective -- against the British government, the latter will have no cause to regret its severity. It is dangerous to let rebels live, If the Irish at home have no more spirit than the Irish in America, the English government has nothing to fear. The Irish-Americans are easily the most powerful influence in American political life. What have these Irish-Americans done to stop the atrocities of Great Britain? They have held mass meetings here and there to "protest" against the continuing executions of Sinn Feiners. They have sufficient political power in the country to cause President Wilson to call a halt to British atrocities, to force the English government to treat the Sinn Feiners as prisoners of war, which they are. But the Irish-American priests of Church and State would not dream of such drastic measures: politicians don't do that.
More effective yet it would have been if some member or members of the numerous Irish societies had captured a few representatives of the British government in this country as hostages for the Irish rebels awaiting execution. A British Consul ornamenting a lamppost in San Francisco or New York would quickly secure the respectful attention of the British lion. The British Ambassador, in the hands of Washington Irishmen, would more effectively petition his Majesty, King Edward, for the lives of the Irish rebel leaders than all the resolutions passed at mass meetings.
After all, it is the Redmonds and the Carsons who are chiefly responsible for the failure of the rebellion in Ireland. They were the first to condemn the "rash step" of a people for centuries enslaved and oppressed to the verge of utter poverty and degradation. Thus they in the very beginning alienated the support that the uprising might have received in and out of Ireland. It was this treacherous and cowardly attitude of the Irish home rule politicians that encouraged the English government to use the most drastic measures in suppressing the revolt.
May outraged Ireland soon learn that its official leaders are like unto all labor politicians: the lackeys of the rulers, and the very first to cry Crucify!
The hope of Ireland lies not in home rule, nor its leaders. It is not circumscribed by the boundaries of the Emerald Isle. The precious blood shed in the unsuccessful revolution will not have been in vain if the tears of their great tragedy will clarify the vision o fthe sons ad daughters of Erin and make them see beyond the empty shell of national aspirations toward the rising sun of the international brotherhood of the exploited in all countries and climes combined in a solidaric struggle for emancipation from every form of slavery, political *and* economic
There the gallows, rope and hooks
And the hangman's beard is red;
People 'round and poisoned looks,
Nothing new and nothing dread!
Know it well - from fifty sources
Laughing in you face I cry:
Would you hang me? Save your forces!
Why hang me who cannot die!
Beggars ye! who hate the tougher
Man who holds the envied lot;
True I suffer, true I suffer
As to you - ye rot, ye rot!
I am breath, dew, all resources,
After fifty hangings, Why!
Would you hang me? Save your forces!
Would you kill me who cannot die!
Its Meaning and Menace:
Last Message to the People of America
Ellis Island, New York, U.S.A.,
Ten Cents A Copy
Order from M. E. FITZGERALD, 857 Broadway, New York City
(This pamphlet appears in Anarchy Archives courtesy of International Institute for Social History.(http://www.iisg.nl/))
WITH pencil and scraps of paper concealed behind the persons of friends who had come to say good-bye at the Ellis Island Deportation Station, Alexander Berkman hastily scribbled the last lines of this pamphlet.
I THINK it is the best introduction to this pamphlet to say that before its writing was finished the rulers of America began deporting men directly and obviously for the offense of striking against the industrial owners of America.
THE "Red Ark" is gone. In the darkness of early morning it slipped away, leaving behind many wives and children destitute of support. They were denied even the knowledge of the sailing of the ship, denied the right of farewell to the husbands and fathers they may never see again. After the boat was gone, women and children came to the dock to visit the prisoners, bringing such little comforts as are known to the working class, seedy overcoats for the Russian winter, cheap gloves and odds and ends of food. They were told that the ship was gone. The refined cruelty of the thing was too much for them; they stormed the ferry-house, broke a window, screamed and cried, and were driven away by soldiers
THE "Red Ark" will loom big in American history. It is the first picturesque incident of the beginning effort of the War Millionaires to crush the soul of America and insure the safety of the dollars they have looted over the graves of Europe and through the deaths of the quarter million soldier boys whom American mothers now mourn.
YES, the "Red Ark" will go into history. Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman whom the screaming harlots of the yellow press have chosen to call the "leaders" of those whose distinction is that they have no leaders, are more fortunate than otherwise. Berkman and Goldman have been deported as "Russians." They were born in Russia, but they did their thirty years' work of en, enlightenment in this, our America. I think they are therefore Americans, in the best sense, and the best of Americans. They fought for the elementary rights of men, here in our country when others of us were afraid to speak, or would not pay the price. In all
We leading cities of this land, they have contributed to the intellectual life of the younger, aspiring generation. I venture to say that there is hardly a liberal in the United States whose life has not been influenced directly or indirectly and made better, by Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman.
ALEXANDER BERKMAN spent in American prisons more years than like to remember. He did it deliberately. He did it for the welfare of men, and the American portion of mankind. He never hesitated to offer his life for his brother. I recall a picture; it is in Russia. We were gathered in Moscow. It looked as though the Revolution were going to its death. Everywhere the Soviet armies Were retreating, the masses were sinking into despair, the German working class was not rising in rebellion as we had hoped, the Austrians likewise; the White Terror was raising its head through. out Russia. A pallid girl, a Russian-American immigrant returned
her native country, held in her hand the bulletin of the day's news. "A hundred Alexander Berkmans distributed throughout Europe at this time, and the history of Europe would be different!" she exclaimed.
BERKMAN wrote a book, "Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist," which is one of America's vital literary products. It won for him the admiration of such intellectuals here as had the courage to admire.
THE "intellectuals" for the most part did not bid Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman good-bye. Most of those who dared to visit the passengers of the "Red Ark" in their Ellis Island prison were young men and women of the working class. That is as it should
It is in the working class where Goldman and Berkman's brave
be. work will find the growth that will count. American plutocracy -hew this. That is why American plutocracy deported Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman.
This pamphlet is the "good-bye message" of Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman; and I think it is in spirit the message of all the passengers of the "Red Ark." As such it appears first in this form and will appear later in history. Read it and keep it for the future.
DEPORTATION-Its Meaning and Menace
THE war is over, but peace there is not. On a score of fronts human slaughter is going on as before; men, women, and children are dying by the hundred thousands because of the blockade of Russia; the "small nations" are still under the iron heel of the foreign oppressor; Ireland, India, Egypt, Persia, Korea, and numerous other peoples, are being decimated and exploited even more ruthlessly than before the advent of the- Great Prophet of World Democracy; "self-determination" has become a by-word, nay a crime, and world-wide imperialism has gotten a strangle hold upon humanity.
WHAT, then, has the Great War accomplished? To what purpose the sacrifice of millions of human lives, the unnamable loss in blood and treasure? What, especially, has happened in these United States?
FRESH in mind are still the wonderful promises made in behalf of [lie War. It was to be the last war, a holy crusade of liberty against tyranny, a war upon all wars that was to sweep the earth clear of oppression and misery, and make the world safe for true democracy.
As with a sacred fire burned the heart of mankind. What soul so small, what human so low, not to be inspired by the glorious shibboleth of liberty and well-being for all! A tornado of social enthusiasm, a new-born world consciousness, swept the United States. The people were aflame with a new faith; they would slay the Dragon of Despotism, and conquer the world for democracy.
TRUE, it was but yesterday their sovereign will registered a mighty protest against human slaughter and bloodshed. With a magnificent majority they had voted not to participate in the foreign War, not to become entangled in the treacherous schemes of European despotisms. Triumphantly they had elected as President of the United States the man who "kept them out of the war" that he might still keep them out of it.
THEN suddenly, almost over night, came the change. From Wall Street sounded the bugle ordering the retreat of Humanity. Its echo reverberated in Washington, and thence throughout the whole country. There began a campaign of war publicity that roused the tiger in man and fed his lust for blood and vengeance. The quiet,
made the villain of the wildest stories of "enemy" atrocities and outrages. The nation-wide propaganda of hatred, persecution, and intolerance carried its subtle poison into the hearts of the obscurest hamlet, and the minds of the people were systematically confused and perverted by rivers of printer's ink. The conscience of America. wanting peace, was stifled in the folds of the national emblem, and its voice drowned by the martial beat of a thousand war drums.
HERE and there a note of protest was heard. Radicals of various political and social faiths- Anarchists, Socialists, I. W. Ws., some pacifists, conscientious objectors, and other anti- militarists sought to stem the tide of the war hysteria. They pointed out that the people of the United States had no interest in-the European War. That this country, because of its geographical location and natural advantages, was beyond all danger of invasion. They showed that the War was the result of European over-preparedness for war, aggravated by a crisis in capitalist competition, old monarchical rivalries and ambitions of super-despotic rulers. The peoples of Europe, the radicals emphasized, had neither say nor interest in the war: they were the sheep led to slaughter on the altar of Mammon contending against Baal. America's great humanitarian mission, the war protestants insisted, was to keep out of the war, and use its potent influence and compelling economic and financial power to terminate the European slaughter and bring peace to the bleeding nations of die old world.
But these voices of sanity and judgment were lost in the storm of unloosed war passions. The brave men and women that dared to speak in behalf of peace and humanity, that had the surpassing integrity of remaining true to themselves and to their ideals, with the courage of facing danger and death for conscience sake-these, the truest friends of Man, had to bear the cross of Golgotha, as did the Nazarene of yore, as the lovers of humanity have done all through the centuries of human progress. The jail and lynch law for them; execution and persecution by their contemporaries. But if it be true that history repeats itself, surely these political criminals" of today will be hailed tomorrow as martyrs and pioneers.
THE popular war hysteria was roused and especially successfully cultivated by the alleged progressive, "intellectual" element in the United States. Their notoriously overwhelming self-esteem and vanity had been subtly flattered by their fellow- intellectual, the college professor become President. This American intelligentzia inclusive of a good many quite unintelligent suffragettes, was the real "balance of power" in the re-election of Woodrow Wilson.
The silken cord occasionally golden in spots) of mutual interests that bound the President and the intellectual element ultimately proved much stronger at their end that at his. The feeling of gratitude is always more potent with the giver than with the recipient. Howbeit the "liberals", the "radicals", were devoted heart and soul to the professor, they stood solidly behind the President, to use their own intellectually expressive phrase.
SHAME upon the mighty power of the human mind! It was the "radical intellectuals" who, as a class, turned traitors to the best interests of humanity, perverted their calling and traditions, and became the bloodiest canines of Mars. With a power of sophistry that the Greek masters of false logic never matched, they cited history, philosophy, science-aye, they called their very Christ to witness that the killing of man by man is a most worthy and respectable occupation, indeed a very Christian institution, and that wholesale human slaughter, if properly directed and successfully conducted, is a very necessary evolutionary factor, a great blessing in disguise.
IT was this "intellectual" element that by perversion of the human mind turned a peace- demanding people into a war-mad mob. The popular refusal to volunteer for Service was hailed by them as a universal demand for military draft as "the most democratic expression of a free citizenship." Forced service became in their interpretation "equality of contribution for rich and poor alike." The protest of one's conscience against killing was branded by them as high treason, and even mere disagreement regarding the causes of the war, or the slightest criticism of the administration, was condemned as disloyalty and pro-Germanism. Every expression of humanity, of social -sympathy, and understanding was cried down with a Babel of high phrases, in which "patriotism" and democracy" competed in volume. Oh, the tragedy of the human mind that absorbs fine words and empty phrases, and is deaf to motives and blind to deeds!
YET there lacked unanimity in the strenuously cultivated war demand. There was no popular enthusiasm for American participation in the European holocaust. Mothers protested against their children being torn from the home hearth; fathers hid their you
sons. The spirit of discontent was abroad. Ile Government bad to resort to drastic methods: the hand of white terror was lifted in Washington. Again we raised our voices to warn the people, the revolutionists of various social views who remained true to our ideal of human brotherhood and proletarian solidarity. We pointed out that the masses of the world had nothing to gain and everything to lose by war; that the chief sufferers of every war
were the workers, and that they were being used as mere pawns in the game of international diplomacy and imperialist capitalism. We reminded the toilers that they alone possessed the power to wage-war or make peace, and that they-as the creators of the world's wealth-were the true arbiters of the fate of humanity. Their mission, we reiterated, is to secure peace on earth, and the product of labor to the producers.
Emphatically We warned the people of America against the policy of suppression by the enactment of special legislation. Alleged war necessity was being used-we asserted-to incorporate in the statute books new laws and new legal principles that would remain operative after the war, and be effective for the continued prohibition of governmentally unapproved thoughts and views. The practice of stifling and choking free speech and press, established and tolerated during the war, sets a most dangerous precedent for after-war days. The principle of such outrages upon liberty once introduced, it will require a long and arduous struggle to win back the liberties lost. "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Thus .we argued.
HERE again the "intellectuals" and radicals of chameleon hue hastened to the rescue of the forces of reaction. We were scoffed at, our "vain fears" ridiculed. It was all for the best interests of the country-the sophists protested-for the greater security and glory of Democracy.
Now reaction is in full swing. The actual reality is even darker than our worst predictions. Liberty is dead, and white terror on top dominates the country. Free speech is a thing of the past. Not a city in the whole wide land but that forbids the least expression of an unpopular opinion. It is descriptive of the whole situation that after thirty years' activity in New York, we are unable
upon our return from prison-to secure any hall, large or small, to lecture even on the subject of prison life or to speak on the question of amnesty for political and industrial prisoners. The doors of every meeting place are closed to us, as well as to other revolutionists, by order of the powers that be.
FREE press has been abolished, and every radical paper that dares speak out, is summarily suppressed. Raids of public gatherings, of offices, and private dwelling places, accomplished with utmost brutality and uncalled for violence, are of daily occurrence throughout the United States. The headquarters of Anarchists, of Socialists, ,of 1. W. W.s, of the Union of Russian Workers, and numerous other
progressive and educational organizations, have been raided by the local police and Federal agents in practically every city of this country. Men and women are beaten up indiscriminately, fearfully clubbed and blackjacked without any provocation, frequently to be released afterwards because no offence whatever could be charged against them. Books and whole libraries of "radical centers" are confiscated, even text books of arithmetic or geography torn to shreds, furniture destroyed, pianos and victrolas smashed to kindling wood-all in the name of the new Democracy and for the safety of the glorious, free Republic of these United States.
THE half-baked radicals, their hearts as soft as their heads, now stand aghast at this terrible sight. They had helped to win the war. Some had sacrificed fathers, brothers, husbands-all of them had suffered an agony of misery and tears, to help the cause of humanity, to make the world safe for democracy. Is this what we fought and bled for? they are asking. Have we been misled by the fine- sounding phrases of a Professor, and have we in turn helped to delude the people, the suffering masses of the world? Is the great prophet of the New Democracy strong only in rhetoric?
PITY the mind that awaits miracles and looks expectantly to a universal Savior. The clear-sighted man, well informed, may reasonably foresee the inevitability of certain results from given causes. But only a charlatan can play the great Savior, and only the fool has faith in him. Individuals, however great, may profoundly influence, but are powerless to control, the fate of mankind. Deep socio- political causes produced the war. The Kaiser did not create it, though the spirit of Prussianism no doubt accelerated its coming. Nor is President Wilson responsible for the present bloody peace. He did not make the war: he was made by it. He did not make the peace: he was unmade by it. The social and economic forces that control the world are stronger than any man, than any set of men. These forces are inherent in the fundamental institutions of our wage-slave civilization, in the social atmosphere created by it, and in the individual mind. These forces are by no means harmonious. The human heart and mind, eternally reaching out for greater joy and beauty-the spirit of idealism, in short-is constantly at strife with the established, the institutionalized. These contending social and human factors produce war, as they produce revolution.
THE powers that succeeded in turning the instinctive current of man's idealism into the channels of war, became the masters of human destiny for the nonce. By a campaign of publicity and advertising on a scale history had never witnessed before, by
chicanery and 'lying, by exaggeration and misrepresentation, by persistent and long-continued appeals to the basest as well as to the noblest. traits of man, by every imaginable and unprecedented manner and method, the great financial interests, eager for war and aided by the international Junkers, thrust humanity into the great world war. Whatever of noble impulse and unsophisticated patriot- ism there was in the hearts of the masses, in and out of uniform, wait soon almost totally drained in the fearsome rivers of human blood, in the brutal, filthy, degrading charnel house of elemental passions set on fire. But the tiger in man, once thoroughly awakened, grew strong and more vicious with the sights he witnessed and the food he was fed on. The basest propensities unchained, the anti-social tendencies engendered and encouraged by the war, and the war propaganda, are now let loose upon the country. Hatred, intolerance, persecution and suppression-the efficient "educational" factors in the preparedness and war campaign-are now permeating the very heart of this country and propagating its virulent poison into every phase of our social life.
But there is no more "Hun" to be hated and lynched. Commerce and business know their interests. We must feed Germany at a good profit. We must do business with its people. Exit the Hun-der Moor hat seine Schuldigkeit gethan. What a significant side-light on the artificiality and life-brevity of national and racial antagonisms, when the fires of mutual distrust and hatred are not fed by the interested stokers of business and religion! But the Frankenstein and intolerance and suppression cultivated by the war campaign is there, alive and vital, and must find some vent for his accumulated bitterness and misery.
OR, there, the radical, the Bolshevik! What better prey to be cast to the Frankenstein monster?
THE powers that be-the plutocratic imperialist and the jingoprofiteer-all heave a happy sigh of relief.
THE after-war conditions in the United States are filling the Government and the more intelligent, class-conscious capitalists with trepidation. Revolution is stalking across Europe. Its spectre is threatening America. Disquieting signs multiply daily. A new discontent, boding ill and full of terrible possibilities, is manifest in every walk of life. Ile war has satisfied no one. Only too obviously the glorious promises failed of fulfillment. Excepting the great financial interests and some smaller war profiteers, the American people at large are aching with a poignant disappointment.
Some vaguely, other more consciously and clearly, but almost all feel themselves in some way victimized. They had brought supreme sacrifices, suffered untold misery and pain, in the confident hope of a great change to come into their lives after the victorious war, in the assurance of a radically changed and bettered world.
THE people feel cheated. Not yet have they been able to fix their gaze definitely upon the specific source of their disappointments, to define the true causes of their discontent. But -their impatience with existing conditions is passionate and bitter, and their former faith in the established order profoundly shaken. Significant symptoms of a social breakdown! Revolutions begin in the heart and in the mind. Action follows in due course. Political and industrial institutions, bereft of the people's faith in them, are doomed. The changed attitude toward the once honored and sacred conditions, now evident throughout the land, symbolizes the complete bankruptcy of the existing order. The old conceptions and ideas underlying present-day society are fast disintegrating. New ideals are germinating in the hearts of the masses-a prolific soil, rich with the promise of a brighter future. America is on the threshold of the Social Revolution.
ALL this is well realized by the financial and political masters of this country. The situation is profoundly disquieting. But most terrifying to them is the new attitude of labor. It is unprecedented, intolerable in its complete disregard of long accepted standards and conditions, its open rebellion against Things' as They Are, its "shameless demands," its defiance of constituted authority. Is it possible, the masters wonder, that we had gone too far in our war-time promises of democracy and freedom, of justice to the workers, of well-being for all? Too reckless was our motto, "Labor will win the war": it has given the toilers a sense of their power, it has made them arrogant, aye, menacing. No more are they satisfied with "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work"; no, not even with wages doubled and trebled. They are laying sacrilegious hands upon the most sacrosanct institution of private ownership, they challenge the exclusive mastery of the owner in his own mine and mill, they demand actual participation in industry, even in the most secret councils that control production and manipulate distribution they even dare suggest the taking over by labor of all industry.
UNHEARD of impudence! Yet this is not all. More menacing still is the revolutionary spirit that is beginning to transfuse itself through every rank of labor, from the highest-paid to the lowest, organized and the unorganized as well. Disobedience is rampant.
Gone is the good old respect for orders, the will of superiors is secretly thwarted or openly defied, the mystic power of contracts has lost its old hold. Labor is in rebellion-in rebellion against State and Capital, aye, even against their own leaders that have a so long held them in check.
No time is to be lost! Quick, drastic action is necessary. Else the brewing storm will overwhelm us, and the workers deprive us of the wealth we have been at such pains to accumulate. Even now there are such terribly disquieting rumblings, as if the very earth were shaking beneath our feet- rumors of "the dictatorship of the proletariat," of "Soviets of workers, soldiers and sailors." Horrible thought! Why, if the soldiers should join these discontented workers, what would become of us poor capitalists? Indeed, 'halve, not the police of Boston already set the precedent-made common cause with labor, these traitors to their masters!
"SOVIET OF WORKERS," dictatorship of the Proletariat"! Why, that's the Russian idea, the terrible Bolshevik menace. Never shall this, the most heinous crime, be forgiven Soviet Russia! Readily would we overlook their repudiation of the Czar's numerous obligations and even their refusal to pay their debts to the American and European money lenders. We'd find some way to recuperate our losses, at a reasonable profit, maybe. But that they have broken down the very pillars of capitalism, abolished profits, given to the peasants the masters' lands for cultivation and use, proclaimed all wealth common property, and subjected the aristocrat and capitalist to the indignity of working for a living-this hellish arch-crime they shall never be forgiven.
THAT such things should threaten the rich men of this free country is intolerable. Nothing must be left undone to prevent such a calamity. It would be terrible to be put on a level with the common laborer, and we with all our millions unable to procure champagne, because, forsooth, some hod- carrier's brat-illegitimate, perchance-did not get his milk for breakfast. Unthinkable! That is chaos, anarchy! We must not permit our beloved country to come to such a pass. Labor rebellion and discontent must be crushed, energetically, forthwith. Bolsheviki ways and Soviet ideas must gain no foothold in America. But the thing must be done diplomatically; the workers must not be permitted to look into our cards. We should he strong as a lion, subtle as die snake.
The war-time anti-Hun propaganda is now directed against the "Bolshevik," "the radical," and particularly against the Slav or
anything resembling him. The man or woman of Russian birth or nationality is made the especial target. The press, the pulpit, all the servile tools of capitalism and imperialism combine to paint Russia, Soviet Russia, in colors of blood and infamy. No misrepresentation, no lie too base to be flung at Russia. Falsehood and forgery the weapons where guns and bayonets have failed. The direct result of this poison propaganda is now culminating in American pogroms against Russians, Bolsheviki, communists, radicals, and progressives in general.
THE United States has fortunately always been free from the' vicious spirit of race hatred and persecution of the foreigner. The native negro excepted, this country has known no race problem. The American people were never guilty of harboring bitterness or deep-seated prejudice against members of other nationalities. In truth, the great majority of them are themselves of foreign birth or descent, the only true native being the American Indian. What. ever racial differences there may exist between the various nationalities or stocks, they have never assumed the form of active strife. On the contrary, they have always been of a superficial nature, due to misunderstanding or other temporary causes, and have never manifested themselves in anything save light, good- humored banter. Even the much-advertised antagonism of the West toward the Chinese and Japanese is not due to any inherent hatred, but rather to very definite commercial and industrial factors. In the case of the Russians especially, as well as in regard to members of the various branches of the Slavic race, the people of America have always been particularly friendly and well- disposed. But suddenly all the war-time hatred toward the "Hun enemy," the blindest intolerance and persecution are poured upon the head of the Russian, the Slav. Great indeed is the power of propaganda! Great is the power of the American thought controller-the capitalist press. The Russian has become the victim of American pogroms!
OFTEN and again in the past have we Anarchists pointed out that the feudal lords of this land would follow, in their march to imperialism, in the footsteps of the Czars of old Russia, and even outdo their preceptors. Our liberal friends denounced us as fanatics, alarmists, and pessimists. Yet now we are confronted with a state of affairs in democratic America which, in point of brutality and utter repudiation of every fundamental libertarian principle, surpasses the worst autocratic methods the Czars of Russia ever dared apply against political dissenters.
THE world is familiar with the story of the pogrom horrors practiced upon the Jews of Czarist Russia. But what the world, especially
the American world, does not know is that every pogrom *Russia was directly incited, financed, and prepared by the Government as a means of distracting the attention of the Russian people from the corrupt despotic regime under which they suffered-a deliberate method of confusing and checking the fast growing discontent and holding back the rising tide of revolutionary upheaval.
BUT thoughtful people in Russia were not long deceived by this hell" stratagem. That is why Russians of character and intelligence never lent themselves to the practice of Jew-baiting and persecution. The authorities frequently had to resort to importing the human dregs of distant communities, fill them with vodka, and then turn them loose on the defenceless Jews. These Black Hundreds and hooligans of Czarist Russia were the infamous regime now forever cast into the abyss of oblivion by the awakened and regenerated spirit of New Russia. There have been no pogroms in Soviet Russia.
BUT the Black Hundreds and the hooligans have now come to life again-in democratic America. Here they are more mad and pernicious than their Russian colleagues in crime had ever been. Their wild orgies of assault and destruction are directed, not against the Jew, but against the more comprehensive scape-goat of Capitalism, "the alien," the "radical." These are being made the lightning rod upon which is to be drawn all the fury of the storm that is menacing the American plutocracy. As the Czars pointed at the Jew as the sole source and cause of the Russian people's poverty and servitude, so the feudal lords of America have chosen the "foreign radical ... .. the Bolshevik" as the vicarious victim for the sins of the capitalist order. But while no intelligent and self-respecting Russian ever degraded himself with the Czar's bloody work, we see in our democracy so-called cultured people, professional men and women, "good Americans," inspired and aided by the 44 respectable, reputable" press, turn into bestial mobs. We see high Government officials, State and Federal, play the part of the hooligans encouraging and aiding the American Black Hundred of legionaries, in a frenzied crusade against the "foreigner," whose sole crime consists in taking seriously the American guarantees of free speech, free press, and free assembly.
THE war hate against everything German was vicious enough, though the people of America were repeatedly assured that we were not making war against the German people. One can understand also, though not countenance, the vulgar clamor against the best and finest expressions of German culture, the stupid prohibition of the language of Goethe and Schiller, of the revolutionary music
of Wagner and Beethoven, the poetry of Heine, the writings of Nietzsche, and all the other great creative works of Teuton genius. But what possible reason is there for the post-war hatred toward aliens in general and Russians in particular? The outrages and cruelties perpetrated upon Germans in America during the war pale almost into insignificance compared with the horrible treatment the Russians in the United States are now subjected to. In fact, the Czarist pogroms, barring a few exceptions, never rivaled the fearful excesses now happening almost daily in various American cities, their victims, men and women, guilty only of being Russians.
Tins state of affairs is the more significant because Russians, and the Slavic people in general, were hitherto always welcomed to these shores as the best offering Europe contributed to the Moloch of American industry. The Slav was so good natured, and docile, such a patient slave, so appreciative of the liberties he enjoyed in die new land-"liberties" which the socially conscious American had long since learned to see as a delusion and a snare. But to the unsophisticated Russian peasant, always half-starved and browbeaten, they seemed real and resplendant, the symbol of paradise found. By the thousands be flocked to the promised land, swarmed into the centers of industry to build our railroads, forge iron, dig coal, till the soil, weave cloth, and toil at scores of other useful occupations, his reward a mere pittance.
NOR was it only the workers in fields and factories who were welcomed here from Russia. Russian culture was an honored guest in America. The great literature of the Slav, his music, his dancing-all found the most generous reception and fullest appreciation. Above all, the Russian intelligentzia, the political refugees, exiles, and active revolutionists that came to America, and came-most of them-not merely to express their opinions but rather to plot the forcible overthrow of the Russian autocracy, all found sympathetic hearing and generous purses in this country, aye, even at the seat of Government.
AND now? Now it is considered the most heinous crime to have been born in Russia.
WHAT has caused this peculiar change? What is back of this sudden reversal of feeling?
IT is the Russian Revolution. Not, of course, the Miliukov-Kerensky revolution, but the real revolution that gave birth to Soviet Russia. The submissive, enslaved, long-suffering Russian people unexpectedly transformed into a free, daring Giant breaking a new path for the progress of mankind-that is the reason for the
changed attitude of the capitalistic world. It is one thing to help Russian revolutionists to overthrow the Czar and to put in his place a "democratic" form of government which has proven such a boon to our own Czars of commerce and industry. But it is quite a different thing to see the Prometheus of labor rise in his might, strike off his chains, and with the full consciousness of his complete economic power bring to life the dreams and aspirations of a thousand years,-the economic, political, and spiritual emancipation of the masses of the world. This pioneer social experiment now being tried in Russia-the greatest and most fundamental ever witnessed in all history-is the guiding star to all the oppressed and disinherited of the world. Already its magic light is spreading over the whole European horizon, the harbinger of the approaching Dawn of Man. What if it should traverse the ocean and embrace our own shores within its orbit? The whole social order of the financial Czars, industrial Kaisers, and land Barons of America is at stake: the "order" maintained by club and gun, by jail and lynch law in and out of court; the "order" founded on robbery and violence, built upon sham and unreason, artificiality and insanity, and supported by misery and starvation, by the watercure, the dungeon and straitjacket; an "order" that transcends all chaos and daily makes confusion worse confounded.
Such social "order" is doomed. It bears within itself the virus of disintegration. Already the conscience of America is awakening. The war marked the crisis. Already American men have chosen imprisonment, torture, and death, rather than become participants in an unholy war. Already American men and women are beginning to realize the anti-social destructive character and purpose of authority and government by violence, force, and fraud. Already the workers of America are outgrowing the vicious circle of craft unionism, learning the lesson and the power of solidarity of the international proletariat, and gaining confidence in their own initiative and judgment, to the confusion and terror of their antiquated, spineless leadership. Already they are seeing through the sham of "equality before the law," and are in open rebellion to government by injunction.
A spark from the glowing flame of Soviet Russia, and the purseproud autocracy of America may be swept away by the social conflagration.
Wherefore the united chorus of all Czars and Kaisers, "Death to the Bolsheviki, the aliens, the I. W. Ws., the Communists, the Anarchists!"
WHATEVER might be said of the American plutocracy and the Government, no one can accuse them of originality. The methods used by them to confuse and confound the people are but cheap imitations of the old tactics long resorted to by the despotic rulers of Europe. Even before the world war Washington had borrowed many a trick from London. And all through the war American militarism, with its conscription, espionage, torture of conscientious objectors, and suppressive legislation, was but aping-stupidly and destructively-the modus operandi of the bankrupt imperialism of the Old World. For lack of originality and ideas, American official
dom was content to be the echo of the military and court circles of London and Paris. And now again we witness Washington following in the exact footsteps of the worst autocracy of modern times. For the hue and cry against the "alien" is a faithful replica of the persecution of the Jews by the Czars of Russia, and the American pogroms against radicals are the exaggerated picture of Russian Jew-baiting.
AND, finally, the most infamous and most inhuman method of Czarist Russia, the method that sacrificed hundreds of thousands of the finest and bravest men and women of Russia, and systematically robbed the country of the very flower of its youth, is now being transplanted on American soil, in these great United States, the freest democracy on earth. The dreaded Russian administrative process the newest American institutions! Sudden seizure, anonymous denunciation, star chamber proceedings, the third degree, secret deportation and banishment to unknown lands. 0 shades of Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry! That you
must witness the bloodiest weapon of Czarism rescued from the ruins of defunct absolutism and introduced into the country for whose freedom you had fought so heroically!
WHAT means the administrative process?
IT means the suppression and elimination of the political protestant
and social rebel. It is the practice of picking men upon the street, on the merest suspicion of "political untrustworthiness," of arresting them in their club rooms or homes, tearing them away from their families, locking them up in jails or detention pens, holding them incommunicado for weeks and months, depriving them of a hearing in open court, denying them trial by jury, and finally deporting them or banishing them to unknown shores. All this, not for any crime committed or even any punishable act charged, but merely on the denunciation of an enemy or the irresposible
accusation by a Secret Service man that the "suspect" holds certain unpopular or "forbidden" opinions.
Lest the truth or accuracy of this statement be called in question, let it be stated that at this very moment there are one hundred such "political suspects" held at Ellis Island, with several hundred more in the various Immigration Detention jails, every one of them a victim of the administrative process described above. . Not one of them is charged with any specific crime; one and all are accused of entertaining "illegal" views on political or Social questions. Nearly all of them have been seized on the street or arrested in their homes or reading-rooms while engaged in the dangerous pursuit of studying the English language, mathematics, or American history. (The latter seems lately to be regarded by the authorities as a particularly dangerous occupation, and those guilty of it a prima facie menace to our American institutions.) Others were arrested in the factory, at their work bench, or in the numerous recent raids of homes and peaceful meetings. Many of them were beaten and clubbed most brutally, the wounds of some necessitating hospital treatment in the police stations they were subjected to the third degree, threatened, tortured, and finally thrust into the bull pens of Ellis Island. Here they are treated as dangerous felons, kept all the time under lock and key, and allowed to see their wives and families only once a week, with a screen between them and malicious guards constantly at their side. Here their mail is subjected to the most stringent censorship, and their letters delivered or not, according to the whims of the petty officials in charge. Here some of them, because they dared protest against their isolation and the putrid food, were placed in the insane asylum. Here it was that the brutal treatment and unbearable conditions of existence drove men and women, the politicals awaiting deportation, to the desperate extremity of a hunger strike, the last resort of defenseless beings, the paradoxical self-defense of despair. For weeks and months these men have now been kept prisoners at Ellis Island, tortured by the thought of their wives and children whom the Government has ruthlessly deprived of support, and living in constant uncertainty of the fate that is awaiting them, for the good American Government, refinedly cruel, is keeping their destination secret, and certain death may be the goal of the deportees when the hour of departure finally strikes.
SUCH is the treatment and the fate of the first group of Russian refugees from American "democracy." Such is the process known as the administrative methods, penalizing governmentally unapproved
Thought, suppressing disbelief in the omniscence of the powers that be.
IN enlightened, free America. Not in Darkest Russia.
WHEN the terrible significance of the administrative process practiced in Russia became known in Europe, civilization stood aghast. It caused a storm of protest in the British Parliament, and called forth violent interpellations in the Italian Diet and the French Chamber. Even the German Reichstag, in the days of the omnipotent Kaiser, ventured a heated debate of the barbaric administrative process which doomed thousands of innocents to underground dungeons and the frozen taigas of Siberia.
ARE the Czar's methods, the Third Section, the secret political spy organizations, anonymous denunciations, star chamber proceedings, deprivation of trial, wholesale deportations and banishment, to become an established American institution? Let the people speak.
THE full significance of the principle of deportation is becoming daily more apparent. The field of its menace is progressively broadening. Not only the alien social rebel is to be crushed by the new White Terror. Its hand is already reaching out far for the naturalized American whose social views are frowned upon by the Government. And yet deeper it strikes. One hundred per cent Americanism is to root out the last vestige, the very memory, of traditional American freedom. Not alone foreigners, but the naturalized citizen and the native-born are to be mentally fumigated, made politically "reliable" and governmentally kosher, by eliminating the social critics and industrial protestants, by denaturalization and banishment, by exile to the Island of Guam or to Alaska, the future Siberia of the United States.
FOLLOWING the "alien radical," the naturalized American is the first victim of the Czarification of America. Patriotic profiteers and political hooligans are united in the cry for the "Americanization" of the foreigner in the United States. He is to be "naturalized," intellectually sterilized and immunized to Bolshevism, so that he may properly appreciate the glorious spirit of American democracy. Simultaneously, however, the Federal Government is introducing the new policy of summarily depriving the naturalized American of his citizenship, in order to bring him when so desired, within the scope of the administrative process which subjects the victim to deportation without trial.
A MOST important precedent had already been act. The case of Emma Goldman affords significant proof to what lengths the
Government will go to rid itself of a disquieting social rebel, though he be a citizen for a quarter of a century.
THE story is interesting and enlightening. More than eight years ago Secret Service men of the Federal Government were ordered to gather "material" in Rochester, N. Y., or elsewhere, that would enable the authorities to disfranchise a certain Rochester citizen. The man in question was of no concern whatever to Washington, as subsequent events proved. He was an ordinary citizen, a quiet working man, without any interest in social or political questions. He was never known to entertain any unpopular views or opinions. As a matter of fact, the man had long been considered dead by his local friends and acquaintances; since he had disappeared from his home years previously and no clue to his whereabouts or any sign that he was still among the living could be found; indeed, has not been found till this day, notwithstanding the best efforts. At great expense, and with considerable winking at its own rules and regulations in such matters, the United States Government finally disfranchised the man-the corpse, perhaps, for anything known to the contrary. The proceeding necessitated a good deal of secrecy and subterfuge, for even the wife of the man in question, whose status as citizen by right of her marriage was involved, was not apprised by the Government of its intended action. On the pretext that the man was not fully of legal age at the time of his naturalization 20 years before-the mighty Republic of America declared the citizenship of the man of unknown whereabouts and against whom no crime or offence of any kind was ever charged, as null and void.
TEN years passed. The disfranchised citizen, so far as humanly known, was still as dead as at the time of his denaturalization. No trace of him could be found, and nothing more was heard of the motives and purposes of the Government in depriving of citizenship a man who had apparently been dead for years. Dark and peculiar are the ways of Government.
MORE time passed. Then it became known that the United States Government intended to deport Emma Goldman. But Emma Goldman had acquired citizenship by marriage 30 years before, and, as a citizen, she could not be deported under the present laws of the United States. But lo and behold! The Government suddenly announced that Emma Goldman was a citizen no more, because her husband had been disfranchised ten years ago!
DARK and peculiar indeed are the ways of government. But there is Method in its madness.
WHAT a striking comment this case afford on the true character Of government, and the chicanery and subterfuge it resorts to when legal means fail to achieve its purposes. Long did the United States Government bide its time. The moment was not propitious to get rid of Emma Goldman. But she must be gotten rid of, by fair means or foul. Yet public sentiment was not ready for such things as deportation and banishment. Patience! The hour of a great popular hysteria will come, will be made, if necessary, and then we shall deport this bete noir of government.
THE moment has now come. It is here. The national hysteria against radicals, inspired and fed by the bourgeois press, pulpit, and politicians, has created the atmosphere needed to introduce in America the principle and practice of banishment. At last the Government may deport Emma Goldman, for through the width and breadth of the country there is not a Judge-and possibly not even a jury-with enough integrity and courage to give this enfant terrible a fair hearing and an unprejudiced examination of her claim to citizenship.
THEREFORE Emma Goldman is to be deported.
BUT her case sets a precedent, and American life is ruled by legal precedents. Henceforth the naturalized citizen may be disfranchised, on one pretext or another, and deported because of his or her social views and opinions. Already Congress is preparing to embody this worthy precedent in our national legislation by passing special laws providing for the disenfranchisement of naturalized Americans for reasons satisfactory to our autocratic regime.
THUS another link is forged to chain the great American people. For it is against the liberties and welfare of the people at large that these new methods are fundamentally directed. Not merely against Emma Goldman, the Anarchists, the 1. W. W's., Communists, and other revolutionists. These are but the primary victims, the prologue which introduces and shadows forth the tragedy about to be enacted.
THE ultimate blow of the imperialist plutocracy of America is aimed at Labor, at the increasing discontent of the masses, their growing class-consciousness, and their progressive aspiration for more joy and life and beauty. The fate of America is in the balance.
THAT is the true meaning and the real menace of the principle of deportation, banishment, and exile, now being introduced in the life of the United States. That is the purpose of the State and Federal Anti-Anarchist laws, criminal-syndicalist-legislation, and all
similar weapons that the master class is forging for the defeat of the awakening proletariat of America.
SHALL the United States, once the land of opportunity, the refuge of all the oppressed, be Prussianized Czarified? Shall the melting pot of the world be turned into a fiery caldron brewing strife and slaughter, spitting tyranny and assassination? Shall we here, on this soil baptized with the sacred blood of the great heroes of the Revolutionary War, engage in the sanguinary struggle of brother against brother? Shall we re-enact in this land the frightful nightmare of Darkest Russia? Shall this land re-echo the horrible tramp, tramp of a thousand feet, on their way to an American Siberia? Tortured bodies, manacled hands, clanking chains, in weary, endless procession-shall that be the heritage of our youth? Shall the songs of mothers be turned into a dirge, and little babies be suckled with the teat of hate?
No, it shall not be. There is yet time to pause, to turn back. High time, high time for the voice of every true man and woman, of every lover of liberty, to thunder forth such a mighty collective protest that shall reverberate from North to South, and East to West, and rouse the awakened manhood of America to a heroic stand for Liberty and Justice.
BUT if not, --if our warning prediction unhappily come true and the fearful tragedy be played to its end, yet shall we not despair, nor misdoubt the finale.
HATEFUL is the Dream of Oppression. And as vain. Where the man who could name the judges that doomed Socrates? Where the persecutors of the Gracchi, the banishers of Aristides, the excommunicators of Spinoza and Tolstoy? Their very memory is obliterated by the footsteps of Progress. Unceasingly it marches, forward and upward, all obstacles notwithstanding, keeping time with the heart beats of Humanity. Vain the efforts to halt it, to banish ideas, to strangle thought. Vain the frenzied struggle to turn back the hands of Time. The mightiest Goliath of Reaction has fought his last fight-his final gesture, Old Russia, a hopeless surrender. Too late to revive this corpse. It is beyond resurrection. Attempts there may be, aye, will be, for the Bourbons never learn,-and the people are long suffering. But attempts useless, destructive, utterly fatal to their purpose. The Dream of Reaction ends in abysmal nightmare.
IT is darkest before dawn, in history as in nature. But the dawn has begun. In Russia. Its light is a promise and the hope of the world.
WHAT'S TO BE DONE?
MEN and women of America, there is much work to be done. If you hate injustice and tyranny, if you love liberty and beauty, there is work for you. If oppression rouses your indignation, and the sight of misery and ugliness makes you unhappy, there is work for you. If your country is dear to you and the people your kin, there is work for you. There is much to be done.
WHOEVER you are, artist or educator, writer or worker-be you but a true man or true woman-there is important work for you. Let not prejudice and narrow-mindedness blind you. Let not a false press mislead you. Permit not this country to sink to the depths of despotism. Do not stand supinely by, while every passing day strengthens reaction. Rouse yourself and others to resent injustice and every outrage on liberty. Demand an open mind and fair hearing for every idea. Hold sacred the right of expression: protect the freedom of speech and press. Suffer not Thought to be forcibly limited and opinions proscribed. Make conscience free, undisciplined. Allow no curtailment of aspirations and ideals. These are the levers of progress, the fountain-head of joy and beauty.
JOIN your efforts, lovers of humanity. Do not uphold the hand that strangles Life. Align yourselves with the dreamers of the Better Day. The cause is worthy, the need urgent. The future looks towards you, its voice calls you, calls.
MAY it not call in vain.
AND you, fellow workers in factory, mine, and field, a great mission is yours. You, the feeders of the world and the creators of its wealth, you are the most interested in the fate of your country. The menace of despotism is greatest to you. Long has your masters' service humiliated and degraded you. Will you permit yourselves to be driven into still more abject slavery? Your emancipation is your work. Others may help, but you alone can win. In shop and union, take up this your greatest problem. Let not the least of you be victimized. Remember, an injury to one is the concern of all. No worker can stand alone in the face of organized capitalism with all its legislative and military weapons. Learn solidarity: each with a common purpose, all with a common effort. Know your enemy: there is no "mutual interest" between the robber and the robbed. Understand your true friends. You'll always find them maligned and persecuted by your enemies. The idealists, the seekers of the slaveless world, speak from your heart. Give them hearing.
YOUR fate, the fate of the country, is in your hands. Yours is the mightiest power. There is no strength in the Government, except you give it. No strength in your masters, except you suffer it. The only true mastery is in you, the working class, in your power to feed and clothe the world and make it joyous. The greatest power, for good or evil. Use it for liberty, for justice. Allow no suppression of the freedom of thought and speech, for it is a snare for your undoing. Sooner or later every suppression comes home to labor, for its greater enslavement. Realize the menace of deportation, of the principle of banishment and exile. 'Tis the latest method of the American plutocracy to silence the discontent of the workers. Lose no time. It is of the most vital importance to you. It threatens you, your union, your very existence. Take the matter up in your organizations. The fortunes of labor in America are at stake. Only your united effort can conquer the peril that menaces you. Take action. Rouse the workers of the whole country. In union and solidarity, in clear purpose and courage is your only salvation.
Quotations from American and Foreign Authors Which Would Fall Under the Criminal Anarchy Law, Espionage Law, Etc.
THESE authors, distinguished thinkers, philosophers and humanitarians of world-wide renown would, if still alive and of foreign birth, not be permitted on American shores if they tried to land here, or, if born Americans, they would be threatened by deportation to the Island of Guam.
THE man who will not investigate both sides of a question is dishonest.
THE cause of civil liberty must not be surrendered at the end of one or even one hundred defeats.
THE authors of the Declaration of Independence meant it to be a stumbling block to those who in after times might seek to turn free people back into the paths of despotism.
I HAVE always thought that all men should be free, but if any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others.
If there is anything that it is the duty of the whole people never to intrust to any hands but their own, that thing is the preservation and perpetuity of their own liberties.
ALL eyes are opening to the right of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.
SOCIETIES exist under three forms, sufficiently distinguishable: (1) Without government, as among our Indians. (2) Under governments wherein the will of every one has a just influence; as is the case in England, in a slight degree, and in our States, in a great one. (3) Under governments of force; as is the case in all other monarchies, and in most of the other republics. To have an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep. It is a problem, not clear in my mind, that the first condition is not the best. But I believe it to be inconsistent with any great degree of population. The second state has a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind under that, enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has its evils, too; the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weight this against the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes nothing. Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of governments, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs. I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people, which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of governments.
WE have long enough suffered under the base prostitution of law to party passions in one judge, and the imbecility of another.
IT is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.
WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON
LIBERTY for each, for all, and forever.
No person will rule over me with my consent. I will rule over no man.
ENSLAVE the liberty of but one human being and the liberties of the world are put in peril.
WHEN I look at these crowded thousands, and see them trample on their consciences and the rights of their fellowmen at the bidding of a piece of parchment, I say, my curse be on the Constitution of the United States.
WHY, sir, no freedom of speech or inquiry is conceded to me in this land. Am I not vehemently told both at the North and the South that I have no right to meddle with -the question of slavery? And my right to speak on any other subject, in opposition to public opinion, is equally denied to me.
I, Am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as Truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen -but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest-I will not equivocate I will not excuse I will not retreat a single inch-and I will be heard. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten to the resurrection of the dead.-In the first issue of the Liberator, January 1, 1831.
IF there is anything that cannot bear free thought, let it crack.
NOTHING but Freedom, Justice, and Truth is of any permanent advantage to the mass of mankind. To these society, left to itself, is always tending.
"THE right to think, to know and to utter," as John Milton said, is the dearest of all liberties. Without this right, there can be no liberty to any people; with it, there can be no slavery.
WHEN you have convinced thinking men that it is right, and humane men that it is just, you will gain your cause. Men always lose half of what is gained by violence. What is gained by argument, is gained forever.
THE manna of liberty must be gathered each day, or it is rotten.
ONLY by unintermitted agitation can a people be kept sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.
LET us believe that the whole truth can never do harm to the whole of virtue; and remember that in order to get the whole of truth, you must allow every man, right or wrong, freely to utter his conscience, and protect him in so doing. Entire unshackled freedom for every man's life, no matter how wide its range. The community which dares not protect its humblest and most hated member in the free utterance of his opinions, no matter how false or hateful, is only a gang of slaves.
STEPHEN PEARL ANDREWS
GOVERNMENTS have hitherto been established, and have apologized for the unseemly fact of their existence, from the necessity of establishing and maintaining order; but order has never yet been maintained, revolutions and violent outbreaks have never yet been ended, public peace and harmony have never yet been secured, for the precise reason that the organic, essential, and indestructible natures of the objects which it was attempted to reduce to order have always been constricted and infringed by every such attempt. Just in proportion as the effort is less and less made to reduce men to order, just in that proportion they become more orderly, as witness the difference in the state of society in Austria and the United States. Plant an army of one hundred thousand soldiers in New York, as at Paris, to preserve the peace, and we should have a bloody revolution in a week; and be assured that the only remedy for what little of turbulence remains among us, as compared with European societies, will be found to be more liberty. When there remain positively no external restrictions, there will be positively no disturbance, provided always certain regulating principles of justice, to which I shall advert presently, are accepted and enter into the public mind, serving as substitutes for every species of repressive laws.
IN our time, as in times before, creep on the insidious forces that, producing inequality, destroy Liberty. On the horizon the clouds begin to lower. Liberty calls to us again. We must follow her further; we must trust her fully. Either we must wholly accept her or she will not stay. It is not enough that men should vote; it is not enough that they should be theoretically equal before the law. They must have liberty to avail themselves of the opportunities and means of life; they must stand on equal terms with reference to the bounty of nature. Either this, or Liberty withdraws
her light! Either this, or darkness comes on, and the very forces that progress has evolved turn to powers that work destruction. This is the universal law. This is the lesson of the centuries. Unless its foundations be laid in justice the social structure cannot stand.
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
LAW never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, aye, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power?
THE mass of men serve the State thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, gaolers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens.
OTHERS -as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders-serve the State chiefly with their heads; and as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God.
How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace, be associated with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave's government also.
ALL men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
IT will never make any difference to a hero what the laws are.
For what avail the plough or sail
Or land or life, if freedom fail?
THE wise know that foolish legislation is a rope of sand which perishes in the twisting.
OUR distrust is very expensive. The money we spend for courts and prisons is very ill laid out.
EVERY actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well. What satire on government can equal the severity of censure conveyed in the word politics which now for ages has signified cunning, intimating that the State is a trick?
No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if everything were titular and ephemeral but him. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.
ALL writers on the science of policy are agreed, and they agree with experience, that all governments must frequently infringe the rules of justice to support themselves; that truth must give way to dissimulation, honesty to convenience, and humanity to the reigning interest. The whole of this mystery of iniquity is called the reason of state. It is a reason which I own I cannot penetrate. What sort of a protection is this of the general right, that is maintained by infringing the rights of particulars? What sort of justice is this which is enforced by breaches of its own laws? These paradoxes I leave to be solved by the able beads of legislators and politicians. For my part, I say what a plain man would say on such occasion. I can never believe that any institution, agreeable to nature, and proper for mankind, could find it necessary, or even expedient, in any case whatsoever, to do what the best and worthiest instinct of mankind warn us to avoid. But no wonder that what is set up in
opposition to the state of nature should preserve itself by trampling upon the law of nature.
To argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead.
THE more perfect civilization is, the less occasion has it for government because the more does it regulate its own affairs, and govern itself; but so contrary is the practice of old governments to the reason of the case, that the expenses of them increase in the proportion they ought to diminish. It is but few general laws that civilized life requires, and those of such common usefulness, that -whether they are enforced by the forms of government or not, the effect will be nearly the same. If we consider what the principles are that first condense man into society, and what the motives that regulate their mutual intercourse afterwards, we shall find, by the time we arrive at what is called government, that nearly the whole of the business is performed by the natural operation of the parts upon each other.
SOCIETY in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.
THE trade of governing has always been monopolized by the most ignorant and the most rascally individuals of mankind.
JOHN STUART MILL
MANKIND can hardly be too often reminded, that there was once a man named Socrates, between whom and the legal authorities and public opinion of his time, there took place a memorable collision. Born in an age and country abounding in individual greatness, this man has been handed down to us by those who best knew both him and the age, as the most virtuous man in it; while we know him as the head and prototype of all subsequent teachers of virtue, the source equally of the lofty inspiration of Plato and the judicious utilitarianism of Aristotle, the two headsprings of ethical as of all other philosophy. Their acknowledged master of all the eminent thinkers who have since lived-whose fame, still growing after more than two thousand years, all but outweighs the whole
remainder of the names which make his native city illustrious-was put to death by his countrymen, after a judicial conviction, for impiety and immorality. Impiety, in denying the Gods recognized by the State; indeed his accusers asserted (see the "Apologia") that he believed in no gods at all. Immorality, in being, by his doctrines and instructions, a "corrupter of youth." Of these charges the tribunal, there is every ground for believing, honestly found him guilty, and condemned the man who probably of all then born had deserved best of mankind, to be put to death as a criminal.
WHEN we have made our constitution purely democratic, thinks to himself the earnest reformer, we shall have brought government into harmony with absolute justice. Such a faith, though perhaps needful for the age, is a very erroneous one. By no process can coercion be made equitable. The freest form of government is only the least objectionable form. The rule of the many by the few we call tyranny: the rule of the few by the many is tyranny also, only of a less intense kind. "You shall do as we will, and not as you will," is in either case the declaration; and, if the hundred make it to ninety-nine instead of the ninety-nine to the hundred, it is only a fraction less immoral. Of two such parties, which ever fulfills this declaration, necessarily breaks the law of equal freedom: the only difference being that by the one it is broken in the persons of ninety-nine, whilst by the other it is broken in the persons of a hundred. And the merit of the democratic form of government consists solely in this,-that it trespasses against the smallest number.
THE very existence of majorities and minorities is indicative of an immoral state. The man whose character harmonizes with the moral law, we found to be one who can obtain complete happiness without establishing the happiness of his fellows. But the enactment of public arrangements by vote implies a society consisting of men otherwise constituted-implies that the desires of some cannot be satisfied without sacrificing the desires of others-implies that in the pursuit of their happiness the majority inflict a certain amount of unhappiness on the minority-implies, therefore, organic immorality. Thus, from another point of view, we again perceive that even in its most equitable form it is impossible for government to disassociate itself from evil; and further, that, unless the right to ignore the State is recognized, its acts must he essentially criminal.
LYOF N. TOLSTOY
THE cause of the miserable condition of the workers is slavery. The cause of slavery is legislation. Legislation rests on organized violence. It follows that an improvement in the condition of the people is possible only through the abolition of organized violence. "But organized violence is government, and how can we live without governments? Without governments there will be chaos, anarchy; all the achievements of civilization will perish, and the people will revert to their primitive barbarism." But why should we suppose this? Why think that non-official people could not arrange it, not for themselves, but for others? We see, on the contrary, that in the most diverse matters people in our times arrange their own lives incomparably better than those who govern them arrange for them. Without the least help from government, and often in spite of the interference of government, people organize all sorts of social undertakings-workmen's unions, co-operative societies, railway companies, and syndicates. If collections for public works are needed, why should we suppose that free people could not without violence voluntarily collect the necessary means, and carry out all that is carried out by means of taxes, if only the undertakings in question are really useful for anybody? Why suppose that there cannot be tribunals without violence?
THE robber generally plundered the rich, the governments generally plunder the poor and protect those rich who assist in their crimes. The robber doing his work risked his life, while the governments risk nothing, but base their whole activity on lies and deception. The robber did not compel anyone to join his band, the governments generally enrol their soldiers by force. All who paid the tax to the robber had equal security from danger. But in the state, the more any one takes part in the organized fraud the more he receives not merely of protection, but also of reward.
Society makes not the least effort to prevent crime, as it could and should by pursuing such methods which would tend to remove the conditions breeding criminals. It deals with criminals, not with crime. It concerns itself only with the classes or individuals already criminal --- generally after the commitment of a crime and occasionally while in the act of commitment --- completely disregarding those standing on the precipice of crimenality; ready to take their fatal leap. Along the road of want and suffering and forbearance society's les miserables, those guilty without guilt are pushed forward by a strong and irresistible hand, forward and forward towards the yawning abyss; and there, pausing a moment on the brink, they behold the gaping chasm, illuminated by the sun of deceit, and through the eyes of misery and despair they perceive fata morgana of lucrative ease, and while they are bending half-frightened, over the dangerous brink, they are lifted up with irresistible force and pushed over the verge and send flying down the steep incline, down and down, deeper and deeper into the yawning abyss, from which there is no returning. And all the while society is calmly looking on, never moving a single finger with a view of retarding the progress of the fallen yet ever ready to stamp them with the label of criminality and to subject the bleeding and torn forms to the care of "Justice", to be punished for their fall.
And how does Justice take care of the criminal classes? how are the latter treated?
Concerning the criminal classes, the motto of Society has always been (and still is): "Get rid of them."
And as the simplest way to get rid of them is to kill them, that was the method ordinarily pursued until a very recent period. In Great Britain, under Henry [?], 263 crimes were punished, in the reign of Henry VIII 2000,000 persons were hanged in Great Britain.
But we, of the 19th century, have become too humane to carry on the process in that way. We punish men or imprison them to get rid of them.
Have the methods of the past or do the modern methods exterminate crime or even check its progress? By no means. If we would take the census of the criminal classes and those dependent upon the latter in the Un. States, we will find that one person in seventy belongs to the criminal class (in the broad sense of the term). And this criminal class has, on the whole, been increasing throughout Christendom. In Spain it has doubled in thirteen years, in France it has increased several hundred per cent within the last quarter century, and in the United States it has grown one third faster, proportionately, than the population since the Civil War. The annals of criminality clearly demonstrate that our methods of treating crime are flat failures, and the effects of the treatment injurious to society, as a whole.
The fundamental principle of past and present methods is essentially wrong. The administration of Justice to criminals is immoral, brutal and brutalizing, and injust, for by justice is meant the giving to every wrong deed its equivalent in penalty, a function which is but disguised revenge.
The deterrent power of fear is not the proper means of treating crime.
It has been tried and it has failed. Men are not deterred from crime by fear. We have broken men on the wheel and buried them alive; we have hanged them; we have gathered the criminal classes all round the gallows to see the execution, and the victim has gone bravely to the scaffold and died game; he has become a hero in their eyes and the men that have witnessed the execution have gone back to plunge deeper into crime than ever.
Capital punishment which is advocated to deter men from crime, does not deter them. Severe penalty for crime does not prevent its increase.
The protection of society sought directly by the (alleged) deterrent power of fear, is a brainless Utopia as to results. Methods of mere punishment cannot fail to be more injurious than beneficial. And aside from the questions as to society's right to punish and of the possiblility that disorders here tofore classed as moral obliquities, vices and simple depravity may prove to be disease, Society should deal with crime not with criminals only. It is by learning the nature of crime and by asertaining the divers causes, leading men to crime, that society may hope to eliminate this disturbant factor of social progress.
If this compilation serves in any way to awaken the intelligent public to realization of the injustice and costly and untenable impotence of existing methods of dealing with crime, if it excites sufficient interest to induce a further and fuller Study of this problem, then its object is accomplished and the author will consider his effort well repaid.
In defense of Rudolf Rocker
TO OUR COMRADES EVERYWHERE
The anarchist movement is passing through a very difficult time. The World War, the Russian Revolution, and the present international reaction have resulted in the disorganization of our movement in the disheartening and disillusionment of many comrades. We are facing a serious task of reorganization; many vital problems are pressing for solution -- problem so grave that they can be solved only by the closest cooperation of the comrades in a spirit of mutual understanding earnestness and responsibility.
That at such a momentous time there should develop in our midst the spirit of petty personalities and strife is more than tragic. It is positively criminal. The growing tendency of irresponsible accusations and recriminations indulged in by some comrades is a direct blow to our movement. Such goings-on in our ranks are more harmful to the propaganda than the worst persecution of our enemies. It must be terminated at once, and we therefore appeal to our comrades everywhere to put a determined stop to these despicable and demoralizing practices.
In this connection we want to protest especially and most a emphatically against the contemptible attack made by a few, irresponsible persons in Germany against Rudolph Rocker. We consider the charges and insinuations cast against him by the Berlin "Freie Arbeiter" as an infamous outrage. Rudolph Rocker is known throughout the international revolutionary and Anarchist movement as one of our ablest and most devoted comrades. He is one the most beloved men in our ranks because of his truly beautiful and noble personality. We ourselves have known Rocker for many years and respect, admire, and love him, as indeed he is respected and loved by thousands of comrades in the Anarchist and revolutionary syndicalist movement who have been fortunate enough to meet Rocker as teacher, lecturer, comrade and friend.
We know the attack against Rudolph Rocker to be as baseless as they are base, and inspired by motives of petty personal envy and spite. Rocker has given 40 years of his life to the cause of Anarchism and he has served the cause with exceptional ability, unflagging energy, and unselfish devotion. His work for the advancement of our ideas has been of the greatest value, and his personal influence on the comrades in the German, Jewish and Spanish Anarchist movements of inestimable cultural and ethical benefit. The persecution he has suffered at various times at the hands of the master class is known to all comrades, but few know the great personal sacrifice his life in the movement as involved for himself and his faithful companion and coworker Milly. To turn the poisoned shafts of petty envy and despicable insinuation against such a man means to aim the worst blow at the movement itself.
We cannot keep silent in view of such a contemptible outrage against the cause dear to us as well as against Rudolph Rocker himself. We condemn unreservedly the Berlin attack and the vile spirit that directed it, and we hereby express our deepest admiration and respect for our beloved comrade and friend Rudolph Rocker.
Fraternally, Alexander Berkman
P. S. We consider it most unjust that the "Freie Arbeiter" closed its pages to Rocker for defense, after having brought such accusations against him, and we hope that there is enough of the Anarchist spirit in the "Freie Arbeiter" to publish the above statement.
Registration is the first step of conscription.
The war shouters and their prostitute press, bet on snaring you into the army, tell you that registration has nothing to do with conscription.
Without registration, conscription is impossible.
Conscription is the abdication of your rights as a citizen. Conscription is the cemetary where every vestige of your liberty is to be buried. Registration is its undertaker.
No man with red blood in his veins can be forced to fight against his will.
But you cannot successfully oppose conscription if you approve of, or submit to, registration.
Every beginning is hard. But if the government can induce you to register, it will have little difficulty in putting over conscription.
By registering, you wilfully supply the government with the information it needs to make conscription effective.
Registration means placing in the hands of the authorities the despotic power of the machinery of passports which made darkest Russia what it was before the Revolution.
There are thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of young men in this country who have never voted and who have never paid taxes, and who, legally speaking, have no official existence. Their registration means nothing short of suicide, in a majority of cases.
Failure to register is punishable by imprisonment. Refusal to be conscripted may be punishable by death.
To register is to acknowledge the right of the government to conscript.
The consistent conscientious objector to human slaughter will neither register nor be conscripted.
Some Reminiscences of Kropotkin
It was about 1890, when the anarchist movement was still in its infancy in America. We were just a handful then, young men and women fired by the enthusiams of a sublime ideal, and passionately spreading the new faith among the population of the New York Ghetto. We held our gatherings in an obscure hall in Orchard Street, but we regarded our efforts as highly successful. Every week greater numbers attended our meetings, much interest was manifested in the revolutionary teachings, and vital questions were discussed late into the night, with deep conviction and youthful vision. To most of us it seemed that capitalism had almost reached the limits of its fiendish possibilities, and that the Social Revolution was not far off. But there were many difficult questions and knotty problems involved in the growing movement, which we ourselves could not solve satisfactorily. We longed to have our great teacher Kropotkin among us, if only for a short visit, to have him clear up many complex points and to give us the benefit of his intellectual aid and inspiration. And then, what a stimulus his presence would be for the movement!
We decided to reduce our living expenses to the minimum and devote our earnings to defray the expense involved in our invitation to Kropotkin to visit America. Enthusiastically the matter was discussed in group meetings of our most active and devoted comrades; all were unanimous in the great plan. A long letter was sent to our teacher, asking him to come for a lecture tour to America and emphasizing our need of him.
His negative reply gave us a shock: we were so sure of his acceptance, so convinced of the necessity of his coming. But the admiration we felt for him was even increased when we learned the motives for his refusal. He would very much like to come -- Kropotkin wrote -- and he deeply appreciated the spirit of our invitation. He hoped to visit the United States sometime in the future, and it would give him great joy to be among such good comrades. But just now he could not afford to come at his own expense, and he would not use the money of the movement even for such a purpose.
I pondered over his words. His viewpoint was just, I thought, but it could apply only under ordinary circumstances. His case, however, I considered exceptional, and I deeply regretted his decision not to come. But his motives epitomized to me the man and the grandeur of his nature. I visioned him as my ideal of revolutionist and Anarchist.
Years later, while I was in the Western Penitentiary of Pensylvania, the hope of seeing our Grand Old man Kropotkin for a moment illumined the darkness of my cell. Friends had notified me that Peter had come to the States on his way to Canada, where he was to participate in some Congress of scientists. Peter intended to visit me, I was informed, and I counted the days and the hours waiting for the longed-for visit. Alas, the fates were against my meeting my teacher and comrade. Instead of being called to see my dear visitor, I was ordered into the Warden's office.(* The Warden is the Governor of the prison and its absolute dictator) He held in his had a letter, and I recognised Peter's small and neat handwriting. On the envelope, after my name, Kropotkin had written, "Political Prisoner".
The Warden was in a rage. "We have no political prisoners in our free country!" he roared. And then he tore the envelope into pieces. I became enraged at such desecration. There followed a hot argument on American freedom in the course of which I called the Warden a liar. That was considered lese majesté and he demanded an apology. I refused. The result was that instead of meeting Peter I was sentenced to 7 days in the dungeon, which was a cell 2 feet by four, absolutely dark and 15 feet underground, one small slice of bread as my daily ration.
That was about the year 1895. In the years following Peter Kropotkin had repeatedly visited America, but I never got a chance to see him, because I was mostly in punishment in prison and for ten years I was deprived of visits and not allowed to see any one. A quarter of a century passed before I could at last take the hand of my old comrade in mine. It was in Russia, in March 1920, that I first met Peter. He lived in Dmitrov, a small town 60 verats from Moscow. I was in Petrograd (Leningrad) then, and the railroad conditions were such that traveling from the North to Dmitrov was out of the question. Later on I had a chance to go to Moscow and there I learned that the Government had made special arrangements to enable George Lansbury, the editor of the London Dail Herald, and one of his contributors, to visit Kropotkin in Dmitrov. I took advantage of the opportunity, together with our comrades Emma Goldman and A. Schapiro.
Meeting "celebrities" is generally disappointing: rarely does reality tally with the picture of our imagination. But it wasw not so in the case of Kropotkin; both physically and spiritually he corresponded almost exactly to the mental portrait I had made of him. He looked remarkably like his photographs, with his kindly eyes, sweet smile and generous beard. Every time Kropotkin entered the room it seemed to light up by his presence. The stamp of the idealist was so strikingly upon him, the spiriturality of his personality could almost be sensed. But I was schocked at the sight of his emaciation and feebleness.
Kropotkin received the academic pyock which was considerably better than the ration issued to the ordinary citizen. But it was far from sufficient to support life and it was a struggle to keep the wolf from the door. The question of fuel and lighting was also a matter of constant worry. The winters were severe and wood very scarce; kerosene difficult to procure, and it was considered a luxury to burn more than one lamp in the house. This lack was particularly felt by Kropotkin; it greatly handicapped his literary labors.
Several times the Kropotkin family had been dispossessed of
their home in Moscow, their quarters being requistioned [sic] for government purposes. They they decided to move to Dmitrov. It is only about half a hundred verats from the capital, but it might as well be a thousand miles away, so completely was Kropotkin isolated. His friends could rarely visit him; news from the Western world, scientific works, or foreign publications were unattainable. Naturally Kropotkin felt deeply the lack of intellectual companionship and mental relaxation.
I was eager to learn his views on the situation in Russia, but I soon realised that Peter did not feel free to express himself in the presence of the English visitors. The conversation was therefore of a general character. But one of his remarks was very significant and gave me the key to his attitude. "They have shown," he said, referring to the Bolsheviki, "how the Revolution is not to be made." I knew, of course, that as an Anarchist Kropotkin would not acept any Government position, but I wanted to learn why he was not participating in the economic up-building of Russia. Though old and physically weak, his advice and suggestions would be most valuable to the Revolution, and his influence of great advantage and encouragement to the Anarchist movement. Above all, I was interested to hear his positive ideas on the conduct of the Revolution. What I had heard so far from the revolutionary opposition was mostly critical, lacking helpful constructiveness.
The evening passed in desultory talk about the activities on the front, the crime of the Allied blokade in refusing even medicine to the sick, and the spread of disease resulting from lack of food and unhygenic conditions. Kropotkin looked tired, apparently exhausted by the mere presence of visitors. He was old and weak; and I feared he would not live much longer under those conditions.
He was evidently undernourished, though he said that the Anarchists of the Ukraina had been trying to make his life easier by supplying him with flour and other products. Makhno, also, when still friendly with the Bolsheviki, had been able to send him provisions. Not to tire Peter too much, we left early.
Some months later I had another opportunity to visit our old comrade. It was summer-time and Peter seemed to have revived with the resurrection of Nature. He looked younger, in good health and full of youthful spirit. Without the presence of outsiders, like the former English visitors, he felt more at home with us and we talked freely about Russian conditions, his attitude and the outlook for the future. He was the genial Old Peter again, with a fine sense of humor, keen observation and most generous humanity. At first he chided me solemly on my stand against the War, but he quickly changed the subject into less dangerous channels. Russia was our main point of discussion. The conditions were terrible, as everyone agreed, and the Dictatorship the greatest crime of the Bolsheviki. But there was no reason to lose faith, he assured me. The Revolution and the masses were greater than any political Party and its machinations. The latter might triumph temporarily, but the heart of the Russian masses was uncorrupted and they would rally themselves to a clear understanding of the evil of the Dictatorship and of Bolshevik tyranny. Present Russian life, he said, was an artificial condition forced by the governing class. The rule of a small political Party was based on false theories, violent methods, fearful blunders and general inefficiency. They were suppressing the very expression of the people's will and initiative which alone could rebuild the ruined economic life of the country. The stupid attitude of the Allied Powers, the blockade and the attacks on the Revolution by the interventionists were helping to strengthen the power of the Communist regime. But things will change and the masses will awaken to the realisation that no one, no political Party or governmental clique must be permitted in the future to monopolise the Revolution, to control or direct it, for such attempts inevitably result in the death of the Revolution itself.
Various other phases of the Revolution we discussed on that occasion. Kropotkin particularly emphasised the constructive side of revolutions, and especially that the organisation of the economic life must be dealt with as the first and greatest necessity of a revolution, as the foundation of its existence and development. This thought he wanted to impress most forcibly upon our own comrades for our guidance in the coming great struggles of the international proletariat.
My visits to our dear Peter were a treat, intellectually and spiritually. I was leaving for the Ukraina for a long tour in behalf of the Petrograd Museum of the Revolution, but I hoped for many more visits to our old, brave teacher of the wonderful brain and heart. It was not to be. He died some months later, on February 8, 1921. I could reach his bedside in time only to say my last farewell to the dead. A great Man, a great Anarchist had departed
THE ANARCHIST MOVEMENT TODAY
The history of human civilization is not a straight, continuously forward-moving line. Its diagram is a zigzag, now advancing, now retreating. Progress is measured by the distance separating man from his primitive conditions of ignorance and barbarism.
At the present time mankind seems to be on the retreat. A wave of reaction is sweeping the countries of Europe; its effects and influence are felt all over the world. There is fascism in Italy, Hitlerism in Germany, despotism in Russia, destructive dictatorship in other countries.
Every progressive and radical party, every revolutionary movement has suffered from the present reaction. In some countries they had been entirely crushed; in others their activities are paralyzed for the time being. It is the essence of all tyrannies and dictatorship, of whatever name or color, to suppress and eradicate everything that stands in the wake of its exclusive domination and triumph. Thus in Russia, for instance, the active anarchist elements (as also the Mensheviki and the Socialist-Revolutionaries) have either been shot or are being kept in prison and exile for indefinite periods. A similar fate has overtaken them in Italy and Germany.
But though anarchism has suffered from the reaction, as have all other liberal and revolutionary movements, it is fundamentally and essentially lost much less than the socialist parties. The reason for it is to be found in certain causes underlying the worldwide reaction. It is generally believe that the war, with its brutalization of man and destruction of higher values, the financial bankruptcy which followed, and the great crisis have brought about the present situation. But these immediate causes are entirely insufficient to explain the incredibly rapid development and success of fascism in Italy and Germany and its spread throughout the civilized world. Other and more potent factors have been at work, resulting in the great reaction.
Those factors are of a psychologic rather than a political or economic character. Broadly speaking, there were two of them. One was the Russian Revolution; the other, Marxism.
The Russian Revolution flamed across the world as a beacon of promise and hope to the oppressed and disinherited. It filled the hearts of the masses in every country with inspiration and enthusiasm. The workers of Germany even tried to follow the example of the Russian brothers. But that beacon was soon extinguished. The Bolsheviki, Marxists par excellence by Lenin's interpretation, curbed the popular aspirations of the people and perverted the revolutionary aims and purposes into one of the bloodiest dictatorships the world had ever seen. The despotsim of a political party, of a clique, took the place of Tsarist autocracy. The result brought bitter disillusionmenht to millions of workers in every land, a disillusionment that has proven a powerful aid to the reactionary forces in every land.
Yet that disillusionment would not have necessarily become such an effective lever in the hands of reaction but for another important factor. It was the spirit of authority, of Statism, the worship of government, with which the masses have for years been imbued by Marxism and by the Socialist political parties everywhere. It served to weaken their self-reliance, robbed them of independence in thought and action, and deepened their revolutionary faith and ardor. The Social Democracy of Germany, in particular, has done the greatest harm in this regasrd. For more than two generations it trained the proletariat in parliamentary inactivity, in systematic compromise, in reliance upon political leaders and in blind authoritarianism. This training lamed the initiative and revolutionary efforts of labor, destroyed the workers' faith in their economic power, and made them dependent on the Marxist Messiah who was to lead them into the promised land of Socialism.
At a certain psychologic moment the Messiah came, and the expectant people "heard him gladly". He was not indeed kosher Marxist, but the oder of "socialist" was strong about him and his Nazi party. That sufficed, particularly after the bitter experiences of the German workers with their Socialist governments, which betrayed labor, oppressed and exploited the workers the same as the Junker régimes had done before them.
It is tragic that Socialism, which originated as a liberating movement, has in the course of time become so emasculated of all revolutionary spirit and purpose as to fall a victim to the reactionary Frankenstein it had itself helped to create. If history teaches anything at all, it is this: all progress has been a getting away from authority, a liberation from it -- liberation from the authority of the village chief and of the tribal totem: from God, Church and the State. The essence of progress is anti-authoritarian. Man's historic advance has been along the line of more and ever more individual liberty and popular freedom, of greater independence in thought and action, higher culture and improved social well-being. Everything that retarded or hindered that process has served to enslave man and resulted in regress and reaction.
It is because of the above basic truths that the Anarchist mnovement has suffered much less from the present reaction than have the Socialist parties. The latter now see their organisations annihilated and the millions of their voters become the obedient and submissive followers of the Mussolinis and Hitlers. They did not have enough revolutionary resistance even to put up a fight. More: the very foundations of Socialism are broken, its theories proved false, its methods condemned by experience. Socialism has lost not only its followers but also its ideology. No wonder the Socialist Parties of America, of Sweden and Belgium, the neo-Socialists of France and other countries have now decided to turn from the proletariat to the bourgeoisie for the realisation of Socialism!
The Anarchist movement, on the contrary, has sustained only physical, superficial losses. It preserves what is the most vital thing in the life and growth of a world-liberating movement: its ideology, its ideal. Indeed, Anarchism is, essentially, strengthened and verified now by life itslef. Parliamentarism has failed utterly. Marxist dogmas have been refuted by experience. Socialist panaceas have been tried and found wanting. The masses will never return to Socialism any more. The experience of Russia and betrayal by Socialist governments in other countries have embittered the workers and made the very name of political Socialism synonymous with treachery and failure.
The present wave of reaction will pass. Experience will teach the people that emancipation from tyranny, oppression and exploitation can be achieved only through Anarchism --- in a social organisation based on free, solidaric co-operation without any admixture of the vitiating and destructive spirit of authoritarianism. Solidarity without freedom is impossible; it inevitably leads back to slavery, open or masked. The future belongs to Anarchism.
Regarding the condition of the Anarchist movement at the present, the following may be said:
Anarchism is not a political party. Its strength cannot be measured by counting heads or ballots. The Anarchist movement is a vital factor of life, based on man's inherent love of liberty
and desire for well-being Anarchism finds expression in every form of human endeavor -- in the economic and social, as well as in the cultural and artistic phases of existence.
As a movement, Anarchism may be considered in its two-fold apsect: First, as a determining factor in the activities of the masses; and second, as work within the Anarchist organisations themselves, in the groups and federations. As an illustration of mass activity inspired by the ideal and methods of revolutionary Anarchism mat [sic] serve the labor movement of Spain. Within one year (in February and December, 1933) two revolutionary uprisings have taken place in that country, both of a predominantly Anarcho-Syndicalist character, as expressed by the I.W.M.A. (the International Working Men's Association, known in the European countries as the A.I.T.)
Anarchist groups and federations exist in every country, including Japan, Korea and China. Their work consists in spreading Anarchism by means of the spoken and written word. An approximation of this activity can be gained from the appended list of Anarchist publications in the various countries and languages.
It must be noted, however, that the literature of a great philosophy and social movement like Anarchism is not limited to the newspapers and magazines of Anarchist tendency existing at a given moment. That is acidental, depending on greater or lesser persecution. A true estimate must include, basically, the entire literature on the subject, and its continuous development up to the present.
Anarchist literature does not deal with the superficial, local political or economic conditions of life. It deals with the foundations --- social, ethical, cultural, as well as political and economic ---
that underlie present-day society, and it is idealist in character. It is therefore that Anarchist literature does not go out of date. It keeps its social and practical value, as does philosophy and art, whatever the shallow surface changes in our authoritarian, capitalist civilisation.
The finest expression of Anarchist thought and sentiment is to be found in works like William Godwin's "Enquiry concerning political Justice and its Influence on general virtue and happiness (1793); in the many works of Proudhon, like the keen analysis of 1848 French governmentalism in "Les Confessions d'un Révolutionnaire" (1849); in Max Stirner's "Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum" (1845); in the numerous writings of Michael Bakunin, some of which are collected in Oeuvres, 6 volumes (Paris, 1895-1913); in the "Idées sur l'Organisation sociale", by James Guillaume (1876); in the works of the Italian Anarchist, Errico Malatesta, practical theoretician and active militant from the seventies up to his death in 1932; in "Les paroles d'un Revolté", (composed 1879-1882) by Peter Kropotkin, as well as in the many other works of this Anarchist thinker and scientist; in "L'Evolution, la Révolution et l'Idéal anarchique" by Elisée Reclus (1897); in the "Collected Essays" of Voltairine de Cleyre, (New York, 1914); in the writings of numerous Spanish Anarchists, such as Ricardo Mella, A. Pellicer Paraire, Tarrida del Marmol, Francisco Ferrer, and others; in the "Aufruf zum Sozialismus", by Gustav Landauer (1911); in the works of Benjamin Tucker, the Individualist Anarchist of America, a man of clear and analytical mind; in those of Josiah Warren, Stephen B. Andrews, Lysander Spooner, Dyer D. Lum, Albert Parsons, C. L. James, Thoreau, William Morris, Edward Carpenter -- to name but a few Anglo-Saxon thinkers of Anarchist tendency; in the books and other publications of Ernest Coeurderoy, Carlo Cafiera, Steinlen, Ibsen, Johann Most, Emma Goldman, Rudolf Rocker, Max Nettlau, Luigi Galleani, and in many other writers, including some memorable pages of Leo Tolstoi.
The Anarchist literature of the world is exceedingly rich. An approximate figure would comprise over 20,000 titles, of which about 3,000 would cover periodicals of longer or shorter duration, issued in 30 or 40 languages in about 40 countries.
"By efficient investigation and careful work on existing materials", writes Dr. Max Nettlau, the erudite Anarchist historian, "a list of this extent could be compiled, with a margin of inaccessible or lost publications, not counting the tens of thousands of smaller items, brochures, leaflets, pictures, etc., and not even referring to the evidence of Anarchist influence in literature, art, the drama".
In the face of these figures, the greater or smaller output of Anarchist literature at a given moment is of little account. The persecution and suppression of Anarchist publications here and there are incidents in a never-ceasing propaganda which has produced efforts of the greatest continuity.
Thus, to cite but a few instances. The New York Yiddish Anarchist weekly, Freie Arbeiter Stimme, has been appearing uninterruptedly since October, 1899. The Geneva Le Reveil and Il Rèsveglio, edited by Luigi Bertoni, was first issued in July, 1900. Le Libertaire (Paris) was founded in Feb. 1895 by Sébastien Faure, a militant Anarchist since 1888, who is not publishing the Encyclopèdie Anarchiste, of which 2,592 immense pages have already appeared. Peter Kropotkin started Le Révolté in Geneva in February, 1879; later, after his imprisonment and expulsion, the paper was continued by other comrades with Jean Grave as editor (January, 1884), -- the same Jean Grave who issues now, fifty years later, his periodical Anarchist cahiers, Publications de "La Révolté" et des "Temps Nouveaus". La Revista Blanca, founded by Frederico Urales in Madrid in 1898, is still appearing under his editorship in Barcelona, having weathered even the storms of last December (1933).
These are but a few of the various forces that carry on the Anarchist ideal in unbroken continuity, and they by far outweigh the meager list to which persecution reduces at times the Anarchist press. At present there appear, in France: Le Libertaire, plus loin, Le Semeur, La Voix libertaire, l'en dehors, Action Libertaire, Le Combat Syndicaliste, Le Refractaire, La Brochure Manuelle, Le Flambeau, Germinal, etc. In Switzerland: Le Réveil et Il Resveglio. In England: Freedom, and Freedom Bulletin. In Belgium: L'Emnancipateur; Pensée et Action.
A number of Anarchist and Anarcho-Syndicalist publications appear in Holland (Grondslagen, Syndicalist, etc.); Sweden (Arbetaren, and others); in Norway; in Lithuania (Auszrina, the Dawn); Bulgaria (Misal i Volya; Rabotnik, etc,), and other European countries, as well as in Japan and China, most of those papers being issued underground.
In Spain there are Tierra y Libertad; Solidaridad Obrera (daily); C. N. T. (the daily of the National Confederation of Labor); La Revista Blanca; El Libertario; Estudios, and a number of others. The NEWS SERVICE and BULLETINS of the International Working Men's Association (I.W.M.A. or A. I. T.), issued in Spanish, French, German and English, are also published in Spain.
In South America there appear numerous Anarchist and Anarcho-Syndicalist papers and magazines. Frequently suppresed, they as frequently reappear, sometimes under different names. In Buenos Aires is published the daily, La Protesta, founded in June, 1897, as La Protesta humana; Nervio an Anarchist journal of criticsim, art and letters; and other papers, like the weekly Il Pensiero (Anarcho-Communist), Culmine (Individualist), Sorgiamo, etc. In Uruguay Luigi Fabbri issues the Anarchist review Studi Sociali (Montevideo). And so on. In Melbourne (Australia) appears L'Avanguardia Libertaria.
Anarchist papers in the Italian language are published in the United States, among them L'Adunata dei Refrattari, in Newark, New Jersey; Cronaca Sovversiva in New London Conn., and other publications. Also Cultura Proletaria, in Spanish; Dielo Truda and other jounrals in Russian. Among the English-language publications are Freedom (formerly weekly, now monthly, in New York; Vanguard, Clarion, Man! (San Francisco), and others.
In conclusion I want to say that the Anarchist movement will get bigger and stronger in proportion as the masses will become familliar with Anarchist ideals and ideas and will realise the necessity of putting them into practice. Historic experience and growing disillusionment with all forms of parliamentarism, authroitarianism and dictatorship will gradually make the people understand that emancipation from political oppression, economic slavery and cultural decadence is not possible except under Anarchism -- in a society based on individual liberty, equal opportunity and social well-being. The propaganda of Anarchist ideas will help to enlighten the people and enable them the clearer and more intelligently to find the way out of the present stupid and criminal pseudo-civilisation. It is therefore that the life, example and propagandistic work of Anarchist individuals and groups are so necessary and vital in furthering the cause of Anarchism.
THE AVERAGE AMERICAN
The general conception of the "type" American is in Europe picturesque and niave at the same time. In France as in Germany, in the Northern as in the Southern countries, in fact throughout the European Continent, with the exception of England perhaps, the opinion of the man in the street about America and Americans is primitive and inadequate. First of all, the name "an American" immediately suggests riches, wealth. It is almost as if American and rich man are synonyms, at least in the view of the average European who has never been in the United States and who seldom comes in direct contact with Americans in Europe.
In the mind of most people the American is pictured as something very much different from the general run of men. He is very efficient, of course, does things on a large scale, throws away his money and gains it as easily, is generous and yet a good bargainer and sharp in business affairs. On the whole he is a daring individual, even reckless, in short a man from whom unexpected things should always be expected, a person even somewhat irresponsible, especially in his behavior outside of his own country.
Naturally, the American films, which are so popular in Europe, have to a great extent helped to develop and cultivate the exaggerated and picturesque notions of "the American". The younger European generation immediately visualises the Western cowboy, with guns in both hands, riding wildly and shooting up the nearest town after the round-up of his cattle. American Prohibition developments, with its rum-running adventures, sinking of ships carrying the forbidden liquor, and particularly the racketeering "business" and the wholesale killings and murders by official and unofficial "shooters" have greatly strengthened the traditional European conception of "the American". Mention the subject of America to the average European and he immediately thinks of Al Capone and similar chieftains of open crime and killings en gros.
It is of course true that there is more crime, proportionately and absolutely, in the United States than anywhere else. Yet it is equally true that the average American is very far from the European conception about him. As a matter of fact, the notorious murders and racketeering in America have very little relation to the average American and to the great masses of the population. Moreover, there is really no such a type as the average American.
The increase of open crime in America, directly traceable to Prohibition, is by no means due to any special and strange characteristics of the genus American. It is, on the contrary, due entirely to certain special conditions created by country-wide Prohibition in a land that at heart does not believe in Prohibition as a moral issue and does not want it. Under similar conditions --- when an entire country is forced by an unpopular law to change its habitual mode of life, to deprive itself of the things and pleasures it is used to have --- every country would show the same results that we see in America today. In the past this has happened in various parts of the world, among people of the most diverse character and nature. Past history gives enough proof of it, and in recent history there are also enough manifestations of this general, universal human trait. A most natural trait, of course, and socially considered a very justifiable and admirable evidence of moral strength and worth. There is neither reason nor purpose in forcing people by law to change their mode of life. If the desired change is for the better, only enlightenment and education can bring about a real and permanent change. Forcing a change by the threat of the law and punishment only results in the greatest harm. It fails to convince or persuade the people, it only compels them. Being compelled, they seek to avoid the consequences of open defiance: they do in secret what they are prohibited from doing openly. They become hypocrites, they lie and cheat; this often involves worse consequences than the original disobedience, and the result is more crime and of a more serious character. That is why the number of killings and murders have so alarmingly increased in the United States since the Prohibition law went into effect.
To the European it may seem as if the rampant crime in America is characteristic of the American make-up and nature. As a matter of fact it is characteristic only of the special condition resulting from country-wide Prohibition. Nor is it the American people as a whole that are involved in the so-called "crime wave", as strikingly illustrtated by such cities as Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and similar big centers. The people as a whole, the "average" American, is in no way directly concerned in those crimes, and he is interested in the matter only so far as any average person in Europe would be interested in it; namely, to the extent that it threatens his person or his property. It is again special social groups that are directly concerned in the whole Prohibition and crime situation in America.
I have said that there is no "average" American. That is due to the circumstance that the people of the United States differ from each as widely as the parts they live in. The New Yorker is a different specimen of man from the Westerner; the latter is entirely different again from the people of Texas. The Middle West, such States for instance as Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska or Iowa, have an entirely different psychology from that of Florida or Lower California. Their habits of life, their modes of thought, even their language is different. Still further, it must also be considered that millions of foreigners and descendants of foreign born people live in the United States and are part of the entire population that is known as "American". Add to this more than 10 million negroes, not to mention the score of different Indian (red-skin) tribes, who are the real, indigenous Americans. In this conglomeration of races it is impossible to speak of the "average" American, nor can any adequate estimate of American psychology be made on such a basis.
In the over 100 millions of the population in the United States there is indeed a certain "type" that is directly involved in all the evils, vices and crimes, including wholesale murder, that have come as a result of Prohibition. This type is neither a social class with its particular and antagonistic interests, nor even any social group. The type is composed of members of different social strata, even of different intellectual and moral character and attitude. But they all have one particular interest in common: to make money, often great fortunes, by helping the people to break the Prohibition laws. This type has become a great powerful trust that rules the country with a power that defies the power of the United Stated Government. It can easily and quite safely defy it, for the simple reason that in that trust belong some of the powerful and influential officials of the Government itself, of the State Governments as well as of the Federal Government.
I am often asked how it happens that such men as Al Capone and his well-known leutenants, whose crimes are committed in the open and almost daily, remain safe from arrest. Even racketeers of lesser prominence are seldolm arrested and never sent to prison. An ordinary murderer is quickly electrocuted in America -- my questioners remark, and even innocent men, like Sacco and Vanzetti, when once arrested and convicted, cannot be saved from the hangman in America. How does it happen, then -- my European friends ask -- that such undisguised murderers as Al Capone are not touched?
They are right in asking such a question. To the outsider, unfamiliar with the American Prohibition situation, the present conditions in the United States seem indeed incredible and impossible to explain or understand. But the answer is: the all-powerful racketeer TRUST. Al Capone has not only his army of helpers, who are from the professional criminal ranks, but his chief aids are judges, high police officials, prosecuting attorneys and members of the highest State courts. The police will not arrest him or any of his important "gun-men", because Al Capone pays them tribute with sums that run into the thousands of dollars. At his service are judges who will liberate the Trust gangsters if they happen to be arrested, and if the popular outcry is too strong and the gangster must be tried, he will in most cases be acquitted by the "influence" of his chief Capone. It may be said now without exaggeration that for the last decade especially the United States is ruled, officially and unofficially, by men who are the staunchest upholders of Prohibition in public, but who "in their private" capacity are the mainstay of the racketeer Trust for the millions of money that is "in it". General business may suffer as a result of the worst depression America has experienced in the past 50 years, but the Racketeer Trust is prospering. Indeed, it is growing larger and entering new fields, for today the Trust is not satisfied to draw profits fromn liquor only. It has branched out and is now beginning to control various other industries. But that is another story of which I may write some other time.
The Awakening Starvelings
Ideas are true liberators. Ideas as distinguised from so-called reason. For in our work-a-day world there is much reason and too little thought. It is given only to the seer and poet to conceive liberating ideas - impractical, wild thoughts that ultimately light the way of practical, blind man to better and higher endeavor.
To "practical" minds the regeneration of the world is an empty dream. To transform the cold winter of our age into the warmth of a beautiful summer day, to change our valley of tears and misery into a luxurious garden of joy is a vain phantasy lacking reason and sanity. But a William Morris sees in his mind's eye a world of comradeship and brotherhood rejoicing in the plentitude of earth's bounty, and he challenges "practical reason" to justify the existence of poverty and antagonism in a society over-rich in all the physical and esthetic joys of a full human life.
The incisive genius of a Leonid Andreyev, with a bitter scorn born of intense love, lashes the exasperating helplessness of the great giant of labor, strong enough to support the whole world, yet too weak in spirit and thought to tear to pieces the flimsy network woven about him by the pigmies vampiring on his great body.
How pathetic the helplessness of the giant, mighty in everything save liberating thought!
Ah, indeed, thoughts are not vain phantasies, ideas not an empty dream. Look about you. On every side is being enacted the terrible tragedy of Andreyev's "King Hunger". Labor feeds and clothes the world, while himself, poor Starveling, goes cold and hungry. The Masters of Life tremble in their palaces at the first rumor of their disaffectd slaves. Their anxious ear catches the low murmur beneath their feet, the ominous rumbling down in the cellar of life; their faces blanch, and laughter is hushed in the mansions; the temples of Bachanalian joy are desereted, and the bright chandeliers turned low, for fear the starvelings might see the light ... and find their way to the palaces.
And the Starvelings? They meekly crawl before the trembling masters, the powerful judges by grace of King Hunger, and plead mercy for stealing a five-pound loaf of bread. But the mighty judges know no mercy. The Starvelings are doomed to death. In despair they call to King Hungar, "Help us! Tell us what to do!"
"Revolt" replies Hunger. "Take what is yours".
But how? In the council of the assembled Starvelings, conspiring plans of revolt, there is even greater poverty of thought and liberating ideas than of worldly goods. Ah, the helplessness of the stomach, conscious only of its hunger!
Meek in spirit, poor in thought, the Starvelings again appeal to King Hunger for advice. But he is perfidious, serving with equal impartiality master and slave, ultimately deceiving both. For the despair of Hunger may flame forth in bloody revolt, but it needs the inspiration of the liberating idea to become conscious, triumphant revolution.
Revolts of hunger, inevitable as they often are, are failures in the larger social sense. But revolutions inspired by a liberating idea have always been successful to the degree of their inspiration. And the world progresses. Modern labor is learning the lessons of its past struggles. It is no longer satisfied with the crumbs thrown at it from the masters' heavy-laden tables. It voices its demand, ever more loudly and determinedly, for its full share of life. Over geographical boundries marches the uprising of the Starvelings. It breaks down national lines, barries [sic] of religion and caste, and sweeps the world with the revolt of the international proletariat. In far China, India and Egypt the coolie is awakening to the new spirit and defying the traditions of centuries. The industrial serfs are challenging their hereditary lords to combat. Throughout the world is to be sensed the coming storm. It is no more the revolt of the Starvelings, blindly following Kind Hunger. It is Revolution, conscious of brotherhood and solidaric unity.
THE IDEA IS THE THING
Did you ever ask yourself how it happens that government and capitalism continue to exist in spite of all the evil and trouble they are causing in the world?
If you did, then your answer must have been that it is because the people support those institutions, and that they support them because they believe in them.
That is the crux of the whole matter: present-day society rests on the belief of the people that it is good and useful. It is founded on the idea of authority and private ownership. It is ideas that maintain conditions. Government and capitalism are the forms in which the popular ideas express themselves. Ideas are the foundation; the institutions are the house built upon it.
A new social structure must have a new foundation, new ideas at its base. However you may change the form of an institution, its character and meaning will remain the same as the foundation on which it is built. Look closely at life and you will perceive the truth of this. There are all kinds and forms of government in the world, but their real nature is the same everywhere, as their effects are the same: it always means authority and obedience.
Now, what makes governments exist? The armies and navies? Yes, but only apparently so. What supports the armies and navies? It is the belief of the people, of the masses, that government is necessary; it is the generally accepted idea of the need of government. That is its real and solid foundation. Take the idea or belief away, and no government could last another day.
The same applies to private ownership. The idea that it is right and necessary is the pillar that supports it and gives it security.
Not a single institution exists to-day but is founded on the popular belief that it is good and beneficial.
Let us take an illustrations; the United States, for instance. Ask yourself why revolutionary propaganda has been of so little effect in that country in spite of fifty years of Socialist, I.W.W. and Anarchist effort. Is the American worker not exploited more intensely than labor in other countries? Is political corruption as rampant in any other land? Is the capitalist class in America not the most arbitrary and despotic in the world? True, the worker in the United States is better situated materially than in Europe, but is he not at the same time treated with the utmost brutality and terrorism the moment he shows the least dissatisfaction? Yet the American worker remains loyal to the government and is the first to defend it against criticism. He is still the most devoted champion of the "grand and noble institutions of the greatest country on earth". Why? Because he believes that they are his institutions, that he, as sovereign and free citizen, is running them and that he could change them if he so wished. It is his faith in the existing order that constitutes its greatest security against revolution. His faith is stupid and unjustified, and some day it will break down and with it American capitalism and despotism. But as long as that faith persists, American plutocraty is safe against revolution.
As men's minds broaden and develop, as they advance to new ideas and lose faith in their former beliefs, institutions begin to change and are ultimately done away with. The people grow to understand that their former views were false, that they were not truth but prejudice and superstition.
In this way many ideas, once held to be true, have come to be regarded as wrong and evil. Thus the ideas of the divine right of kings, of slavery and serfdom. There was a time when the whole world believed those institutions to be right, just, and unchangeable. In the measure that those superstitions and false beliefs were fought by advanced thinkers, they became discredited and lost their hold upon the people, and finally the institutions that incorporated those ideas were abolished. Highbrows will tell you that they had "outlived their usefulness" and that therefore they "died". But how did they "outlive" their "usefulness?" To whom were they useful, and how did they "die"?
We know already that they were useful only to the master class, and that they were done away with by popular uprisings and revolutions.
Why did not old and effete institutions "disappear" and die off in a peaceful manner?
For two reasons: first, because some people think faster than others. So that it happens that a minority in a given place advance in their views quicker than the rest. The more that minority will become imbued with the new ideas, the more convinced of their truth, and the stronger they will feel themselves, the sooner they will try to realize their ideas; and that is usually before the majority have come to see the new light. So that the minority have to struggle against the majority who still cling to the old views and conditions.
Second, the resistance of those who hold power. It makes no difference whether it is the church, the king, or kaiser, a democratic government or a dictatorship, a republic or an autocracy -- those in authority will fight desperately to retain it as long as they can hope for the least chance of success. And the more aid they get from the slower-thinking majority the better the fight they can put up. Hence the fury of revolt and revolution.
The desperation of the masses, their hatred of those responsible for their misery, and the determination of the lords of life to hold on to their privileges and rule combine to produce the violence of popular uprisings and rebellions.
But blind rebellion without definite object and purpose is not revolution. Revolution is rebellion become conscious of its aims. Revolution is social when it strives for a fundamental change. As the foundation of life is economics, the social revolution means the reorganization of the industrial, economic life of the country and consequently also of the entire structure of society.
But we have seen that the social structure rests on the basis of ideas, which implies that changing the structure presupposes changed ideas. In other words, social ideas must change first before a new social structure can be built.
The social revolution, therefore, is not an accident, not a sudden happening. There is nothing sudden about it, for ideas don't change suddenly. They grow slowly, gradually, like the plant or flower. Hence the social revolution is a result, a development, which means that it is evolutionary. It develops to the point when considerable numbers of people have embraced the new ideas and are determined to put them into practice. When they attempt to do so and meet with opposition, then the slow, quiet, and peaceful social evolution becomes quick, militant, and violent. Evolution becomes revolution.
Bear in mind, then, that evolution and revolution are not two separate and different things. Still less are they opposites, as some people wrongly believe. Revolution is merely the boiling point of evolution.
Because revolution is evolution at its boiling point you cannot "make" a real revolution any more than you can hasten the boiling of a tea kettle. It is the fire underneath that makes it boil: how quickly it will come to the boiling point will depend on how strong the fire is.
The economic and political conditions of a country are the fire under the evolutionary pot. The worse the oppression, the greater the dissatisfaction of the people, the stronger the flame. This explains why the fires of social revolution swept Russia, the most tyrannous and backward country, instead of America where industrial development has almost reached its highest point -- and that in spite of all the learned demonstrations of Karl Marx to the contrary.
We see, then, that revolutions, though they cannot be made, can be hastened by certain factors; namely, pressure from above: by more intense political and economical oppression; and by pressure from below: by greater enlightenment and agitation. These spread the ideas; they further evolution and thereby also the coming of revolution.
But pressure from above, though hastening revolution, may also cause its failure, because such revolution is apt to break out before the evolutionary process has been sufficiently advanced. Coming prematurely, as it were, it will fizzle out in mere rebellion; that is, without clear, conscious aim and purpose. At best, rebellion can secure only some temporary alleviation; the real causes of the strife, however, remain intact and continue to operate to the same effect, to cause further dissatisfaction and rebellion.
Summing up what I have said about revolution, we must come to the conclusion that
1) a social revolution is one that entirely changes
the foundation of society, its political, economic, and social character;
2) such a change must first take place in the ideas
and opinions of the people, in the minds of men;
3) oppression and misery may hasten revolution, but may
thereby also turn it into failure, because lack of evolutionary preparation will make real accomplishment impossible;
4) only that revolution can be fundamental, social and
successful, which will be the expression of a basic change of ideas and opinions.
From this it obviously follows that the social revolution must be prepared. Prepared in the sense of furthering the evolutionary process, of enlightening the people about the evils of present-day society and convincing them of the desirability and possibility, of the justice and practicability of a social life based on liberty; prepared, moreover, by making the masses realize very clearly just what they need and how to bring it about.
Such preparation is not only an absolutely necessary preliminary step. Therein lies also the safety of the revolution, the only guarantee of its accomplishing its objects.
It has been the fate of most revolutions -- as a result of lack of preparation -- to be sidetracked from their main purpose, to be misused and led into blind alleys. Russia is the best recent illustration of it. The February Revolution, which sought to do away with the autocracy, was entirely successful. The people knew exactly what they wanted; namely the abolition of Tsardom. All the machinations of politicians, all the oratory and schemes of the Lvovs and Milukovs -- the "liberal" leaders of those days -- could not save the Romanov Régime in the face of the intelligent and conscious will of the people. It was this clear understanding of its aims which made the February Revolution a complete success, with, mind you, almost no bloodshed.
Furthermore, neither appeals nor threats by the Provisional Government could avail against the determination of the people to end the war. The armies left the fronts and thus terminated the matter by their own direct action. The will of a people conscious of their objects always conquers.
It was the will of the people again, their resolute aim to get hold of the soil, which secured for the peasant the land he needed. Similarly the city workers, as repeatedly mentioned before, possessed themselves of the factories and of the machinery of production.
So far the Russian Revolution was a complete success. But at the point where the masses lacked the consciousness of definite purpose, defeat began. That is always the moment when politicians and political parties step in to exploit the revolution for their own uses or to experiment their theories upon it. This happened in Russia, as in many previous revolutions. The people fought the good fight -- the political parties fought over the spoils to the detriment of the revolution and to the ruin of the people.
This is, then, what took place in Russia. The peasant, having secured the land, did not have the tools and machinery he needed. The worker, having taken possession of the machinery and factories, did not know how to handle them to accomplish his aims. In other words, he did not have the experience necessary to organize production and he could not manage the distribution of the things he was producing.
His own efforts -- the worker's, the peasant's the the soldier's -- had done away with Tsardom, paralyzed the Government, stopped the war, and abolished private ownership of land and machinery. For that he was prepared by years of revolutionary education and agitation. But for no more than that. And because he was prepared for no more, where his knowledge ceased and definite purpose was lacking, there stepped in the political party and took affairs out of the hands of the masses who had made the revolution.
Politics replaced economic reconstruction and thereby sounded the death knell of the social revolution; for people live by bread, by economics, not by politics.
Food and supplies are not created by decree of party or government. Legislative edicts don't till the soil; laws can't turn the wheels of industry. Dissatisfaction, strife, and famine came upon the heels of government coercion and dictatorship. Again, as always, politics and authority proved the swamp in which the revolutionary fires became extinguished.
Let us learn this most vital lesson: thorough understanding by the masses of the true aims of revolution means success. Carrying out their conscious will by their own efforts guarantees the right development of the new life. On the other hand, lack of this understanding and of preparation means certain defeat, either at the hands of reaction or by the experimental theories of would-be political party friends. Let us prepare, then.
Generally speaking, there is neither any sincere and intelligent plan among the reformers, of whatever hue, to solve this great problem, nor any possibility of a thorough and final solution of unemployment within the legal and industrial boundaries of present-day capitalist society. Unemployment is no sporadic pehnomenon [sic] of modern life. It is inherent in the character and mode of functioning of our industrial system. The jobless man is always with us, and industrial crises or stagnation, eliminating hundreds of thousands of workers, for a longer or shorter period, from the field of labor, are events of regular and inevitable recurrence.
The causes of unemployment are ridiculously simple, and therefore so little understood. Sociologists, political economists, and reformists have succeeded in so confusing the issue that the real facts of the problem have been all but buried beneath a mass of fictious issues concerning the tariff, money problems, stringency of the market, and similar aberrations. Yet the fundamental causes underlying all these so-called problems and, above all, the paramount problem of constant unemployment on a comparatively small scale and periodic unemployment for great masses of workers, are only too evident. They are these: the producer, deprived of the full equivalent of his product, cannot buy the latter back. As a result, products accumulate in the hands of the non-producers, till a point is reached when a halt is called to production. Hence closed mills and factories, and men out of work.
In other words: when much food, clothing and shelter has been produced, the producer is thrown out of work and is thus doomed to do without the very things of which we have the greatest abundance. That is to say, the more wealth the worker creates, the poorer he is; the more food on hand, the greater the starvation; the more products are being accumulated, the greater the army of the unemployed.
Surely 'tis no more simple a problem that its existence is a travesty upon all sanity or humanity.
The solution -- the only possible one -- consists in the producer receiving the full value of his product, or its equivalent. This involves the termination of capitalist production for profit, and the organization of co-operative social production for use.
Such a change in the very fundamentals of capitalist society is inevitable, both for reasons of social necessity as well as because of the growing class consciousness and solidarity of labor. Bout though inevitable, its accomplishment will require considerable time.
Meanwhile the unemployed by the hundred thousands are tramping the streets of our industrial centres, many of them homeless and hungry. What is being done in this matter by the lords of life, or by the municipal, State and national governments? Why, practically nothing. Even the labor unions, nay, even the Socialist party organs know no better solution to offer than the need of new legislation. And while new laws are being discussed, proposed, voted on and passed, then vetoed or declared unconstitutional, only to be discussed again, amended and passed, and finally found inapplicable or impossible of execution; then labor departments created and commissioners appointed to "investigate thoroughly" the whole situation and catalogue the unemployed by trade, number, nationality, sex, age, and color, -- while months, aye, years, pass in this graft game of high-paid politicians and reformers, what are the unemployed, hungry and homeless, to do? How are they to exist?
Surely, every hungry man has a right to bread; has a right to demand it, for he is entitled to it by laws more sacred than any man-made statutes -- the laws of human need, of self-preservation. Ane whoever dare refuse a starving man bread, let him take heed. It was Marie Antoinette, if we remember right, who scorned the demand of the Paris mob, when it cried for bread. She probably regretted her hauteur when the same "mob" took her head in exchange.
TO THE YOUTH OF AMERICA
Text from The Blast, Vol. 2, #5, 6/1/1917.
Tyranny must be opposed at the start.
Autocracy, once secured in the saddle, is diffucult to dislodge.
If you believe that America is entering the war "to make democracy safe," then be a man and volunteer.
But if you know anything at all, then you should know that the cry of democracy is a lie and a snare for the unthinking. You should know that a republic is not synonymous with democracy, and that America has never been a real democracy, but that it is the vilest plutocracy on the face of the globe.
If you can see, hear, feel, and think, you should know that King Dollar rules the United States, and that the workers are robbed and exploited in this country to the heart's content of the masters.
If you are not deaf, dumb, and blind, then you know that the American bourgeois democracy and capitalistic civilization are the worst enemies of labor and progress, and that instead of protecting them, you should help to fight to destroy them.
If you know this, you must also know that the workers of America have no enemy in the toilers of other countries. Indeed, the workers of Germany suffer as much from their exploiters and rulers as do the masses of America.
You should know that the interests of Labor are identical in all countries. Their cause is international.
Then why should they slaughter each other?
The workers of Germany have been misled by their rulers into donning the uniform and turning murders.
So have the workers of France, of Italy, and England been misled.
But why should *you*, men of America, allow yourselves to be misled into murder or into being murdered?
If your blood must be shed, let it be in defense of your own interests, in the war of the workers against their despoilers, in the cause of real liberty and independence.
By Alexander Berkman
ALLIES- The fairies of Democracy.
BARBARIANS- The other fellows.
CONGRESS- The valet of Woodrow the First.
CENSORSHIP- The rape of Free Speech.
CONSCRIPTION- Free men fighting against their will.
CIVILIZATION- In God We Trust.
DEMOCRACY- The voice of the Gallery Gods.
FREE SPEECH- Say what you please, but keep your mouth shut.
HUNS- Loyal patriots from Central Europe.
HUMANITY- Treason to government.
JUSTICE- Successful target shooting.
KAISER- A President's ambition.
LIBERTY BOND- A bone from a bonehead.
LIBERTY LOAN- The bread line of the Unborn.
LOYAL CITIZEN- Deaf, dumb, and blind.
MILITARISM- Christianity in action.
PATRIOTISM- Hating your neighbor.
REGISTRATION- Funeral march of Liberty.
SEDITION- The proof of Tyranny.
SLACKER- Jesus Christ.
TRENCHES- Digging your own grave.
UN-AMERICAN- Independent opinion.
UNIFORM- Government strait-jacket.
VICTORY- Ten million dead.
WAR- The propaganda of Democracy.
Which the braver?
Which is the braver? The man who falls in line with the great majority or he that faces the wrath of millions for conscience sake?
Do not confound us with the pacifists. We believe in fighting. Aye, we have been fighting all our lives-- fighting injustice, oppression, and tyranny. Almost single handed at that.
We are not pacifists. But we want to know what we are fighting for, and we refuse to fight for the enemies and the exploiters of humanity.
Alexander Berkman's Last Days
[Published in The Vanguard (New York), Aug.-Sept. 1936.]
St. Tropez July 12th, 1936
It is only two weeks since our beloved comrade Alexander Berkman passed away. Yet it seems an eternity to me. The blow his untimely death has struck me has left me completely shattered. I find it difficult to collect my thoughts. But I feel sure you will want to know all about Sasha's end. For have you not loved him all through the years?
Sasha left a note which we found after we returned from his last resting place. It reads: "I don't want to live a sick man. Dependent. Forgive me Emmie darling. And you too Emma. Love to All. Help Emmie." signed, Sasha.
I have two letters from comrade Berkman dated June 24th and 26th. He wrote while he did not feel strong enough to come to St. Tropez the 27th, my sixty-seventh birthday, his condition was not serious and not to worry. On the 27th in the afternoon Berkman called me up from Nice to give his well wishes for the day. He said he was feeling better. Comrade Michael Cohn, his family and a very devoted English friend were with me. And my thoughts were far away from any danger to my own old pal. At 2 A. M. Sunday, just two weeks ago I was awakened by a telephone call from Nice to come at once. I knew at once that our comrade was at the end. But not what kind of an end.
On arriving in Sasha's apartment we found Emmie, his companion for fourteen years, in a collapse hardly able to tell us what had happened. We finally learned that Sasha had suffered a violent relapse and while Emmie was trying desperately to get a doctor Sasha had shot himself in the chest. This Emmie learned only after Sasha had been rushed to a hospital and she had been dragged off by the police as having killed Sasha. So great was the fortitude of our brave comrade that he did not let Emmie know he had ended his life. Actually she found him in bed covered up with blankets so she should not notice his wound. Getting a doctor in a small town in France is another indication of the backwardness of the country. It took Emmie several hours before the miserable man arrived. He came too late. But when he found the revolver he notified the police and the hospital, and Sasha was taken away in an ambulance.
We rushed to the hospital. We found Sasha fully conscious but in terrific pain so that he could not speak. He did, however, fully recognize us. Michael Cohn and I remained with him until the early afternoon. When we returned at four o'clock Sasha was in a coma. He no longer knew us. And I hope fervently he no longer felt his pain. I stayed with him until 8.30 P. M. planning to return at 11 and remain with him for the night. But we were notified that he died at 10 o'clock Sunday, June 28th.
Comrade Berkman had always maintained that if ever he should be stricken with suffering beyond endurance he will go out of life by his own hand. Perhaps he might not have done it on the fatal evening of the 28th had I or anyone else of our friends been near to help him. But Emmie was desperately trying to get a doctor. And there was no one near she could have left with Sasha. She most likely did not even realize the gravity of the moment.
It had always been our comrade's wish to be cremated. This was also my wish and Emmie's. But there is no crematorium in Nice. The next place was Marseilles. And the cost I was told 8000 francs. Sasha left the "munificent" sum of $80 which the very government, that had hounded him from pillar to post, blocked as soon as Sasha's death became known. No one could get it. I myself have not been blessed with worldly goods, certainly not since I am living in exile. I could therefore, not carry out the cherished wish of my old pal and comrade. In point of fact he would have been opposed to such a thing as spending 8000 francs for cremation. He would have said "the living need this money more than the dead." But it is so characteristic of our damnable system to fleece the living as well as the dead. No one will ever know the humiliation and suffering our comrade went through in France. Four times expelled. Then granted a pittance of three months. Then six months. And irony of ironies just two weeks before the end he was given an extension of a year. Just when he might have enjoyed some peace Alexander Berkman was too harassed by pain and too spent from his operations to live.
Death had robbed me of the chance to be with my life-long friend until he breathed his last. But it could not prevent me from a few precious moments with him alone in the Dead House, moments of serene peace, and silence in contemplation of our friendship that had never wavered, our struggle and work for the ideal for which Sasha had suffered so much and to which he had dedicated his whole life. These moments will remain for me until I myself will breathe the last. And these moments in the House of the Dead will spur me on to continue the work Sasha and I had begun August 15, 1889.
I know how you all feel about our wonderful Sasha. The many cables, wires and letters I have already received are proof of your devotion and your love. I know you will not deny our dead the respect for the method he employed to end his suffering.
Our sorrow is all-embracing, our loss beyond mere words. Let us gather strength to remain true to the flaming spirit of Alexander Berkman. Let us continue the struggle for a new and beautiful world. Let us work for the ultimate triumph of Anarchism--the ideal Sasha loved passionately and in which he believed with every fiber of his being. In this way alone can we honor the memory of one of the grandest and bravest comrades in our ranks--ALEXANDER BERKMAN.
Alexander Berkman Bibliography
Berkman, A, (1912). Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist. New York: Mother Earth Press.
--- (1919). Deportation, its Meaning and Menace: Last Message to the People of America. Ellis Island, N.Y.: M.E. Fitzgerald.
--- (1922). "The Kronstadt Rebellion". The Russian Revolution Series, No. 3. Berlin: Der Syndikalist.
--- (1922). The Russian Tragedy.
--- (1925). The Bolshevik Myth. Berlin, Maurer & Dimmick, 1925
--- (1925). The "anti-climax"; the concluding chapter of my Russian diary "The bolshevik myth." Berlin: Maurer & Dimmick.
--- (1929). Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism.New York: The Vanguard Press.
--- (1929). A.B.C. of anarchism, with a biographical note of the author. London: Freedom Press.
--- (1970/1999). Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist. New York: New York Review of Books.
--- (1972). What is Communist Anarchism?. New York:Dover Publications Inc. (reprint of Now and After, 1929).
--- (1977). What is Communist Anarchism?. London: Freedom Press.
--- (1992). Life of an Anarchist: The Alexander Berkman Reader.Fellner, G., ed. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows.